225g caster sugar
3 eating apples, any you like, you choose
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
25g plain flour
Right. Before you do anything else, get your butter out the fridge so it can soften. And get your eggs out the fridge too so they can come to room temperature. Break them into a bowl and beat them together with a fork.
Make the blackberry puree by adding 225g of sugar to 500g of blackberries in a pan, and set it over a gentle heat to begin with, to get the juices flowing. Turn the heat up to medium and cook the blackberries to a mush, once they reach mush, keep on cooking. The point of this is to reduce the liquid content and leave a thick and more concentrated blackberry puree. So how do you know when enough is enough? Bear in mind as the puree cools it will set further, so if you stopped cooking when you get something the consistency of loose cheap jam, then you can trust by the time it's cooled you’ll be good to go. As a rough guide we’re talking 15 – 20 mins, not 1 – 2 hours. Now, tip this into a sieve sat over a bowl, and squidge the puree through with the back of a spoon. (Better still, go online and get yourself a ‘mouli’. It’ll come in handy for all sorts of things, and they’re not expensive.)
Allow the puree to cool for 5 mins then pour it into the base of the tart tin and level it if it doesn’t do it of its own accord.
Peel, core and thinly slice 3 apples and toss them in lemon juice (to stop discolouration). Leave those to one side for now.
So then, the frangipane. The ingredients and ratios of my frangipane mix never change, no matter what: sometimes I do more, sometimes I do less depending on what else I’ve got going on with it, but otherwise its always the same.
Start by creaming together the sugar with the butter, just like you would for making a Vic’ Sponge. Use an electric hand whisk, you can’t achieve the right effect with a wooden spoon so easily - keep going until the mixture is fluffy, almost mousse like and has changed colour to an off-white, magnolia if you like.
Now, with the beaters still running start adding the eggs a little at a time, by that I mean a table spoon at a time. Mix each addition of egg thoroughly and continue in this way until all the egg is in. Have the flour to hand just in case the mixture looks like it might be starting to curdle and add a sprinkling if you fear curdling may be imminent. If you get to the end of the eggs and you’ve still got flour left, it can be folded in along with the ground almonds.
So just like cake baking, incorporate the ground almonds by folding in. The initial creaming of the butter and sugar introduces lots of air into the mix, so let’s not go and undo all our hard work by beating the almonds in like a bloody maniac. Be respectful, gently does it. Also at this stage add a few drops of almond essence, how much depends on whether you’ve got cheap stuff or if you’ve got the real thing, and the only way to tell is to taste as you go, but just go steady, you don’t want it to taste synthetic, you only really want to accentuate the natural almondyness.
Scrape the frangipane mix into the tart case on top of the blackberry and level it, being careful not to use a tsunami action and splurge the puree out over the sides.
Place the sliced apple on top of the frangipane (in a decorative fashion of your choice, personally I like a concentric circle) pushing each piece just ever so slightly into the filling to secure it in place.
That’s it done. Shove it in the oven at 180 ⁰C for probably 45 mins, but check after 25 mins, if it’s starting to take too much colour you might want to cover it with some baking paper for the remainder of its time.
When it’s ready it will be firm in the centre and slightly raised, just like a cake. If you’re unsure you could always insert a cocktail stick/metal skewer into the centre and test it comes out clean.
If you wanted to be really fancy-pants, you could glaze the top with a little apricot glaze, which is just cheap apricot jam melted with a little water and brushed on with a pastry brush. Failing that dust the whole thing with icing sugar when it comes to serving.