From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
1 vanilla pod
150 g butter (at room temperature)
4 oz icing sugar (sifted)
25 g plain flour
100 g ground almonds
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
large pinch of ground cinnamon
450 g cooking apples
juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 tbsp apricot jam
100 g butter (diced)
175 g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
50 g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tblsp cream
softly whipped cream and caramel ice cream, to serve
To make the pastry, place the butter in a food processor with the flour and sugar and pulse until just blended. Add the egg yolk and cream and blend again briefly. Cover with clingfilm and chill for one hour to rest.
To make filling, split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Place 100g of the butter and the icing sugar in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy, using an electric hand beater. Beat in the flour and almonds and then gradually beat in the eggs, vanilla seeds and cinnamon. Continue to beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Preheat oven to 190C (375F/Gas 5). Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a 23cm (9") loose-bottomed flan tin. Chill again for 15 minutes to allow the pastry to rest.
Peel the apples and cut into quarters to remove the cores, then cut into thin wedges. Tip into a bowl and toss in the lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Spread the almond filling in the pastry case and carefully arrange the apple slices on top in a fan shape and then gently press the apples down into the filling. Dot with the remaining 50g of the butter.
Bake the tart for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and the apples are golden brown. Remove from the flan tin and transfer to a plate. Melt the apricot jam in a pan or in the microwave and brush over the tart.
To serve, cut the tart into wedges and serve warm or cold on serving plates with a good dollop of whipped cream and a scoop of caramel ice cream