Apple And Nectarine Tart

There are thousands of apple pie recipes; chunky apple pies, pies filled with purees, pies with lids and pies without. There are pies mixed with pears and quinces and dried fruits. And there’s this one, mixing two of the great fruits of autumn.

Autumn is the perfect time for fruit pies. When the nights get longer, and the sun has gone earlier, and the air is cooler, the body cries out for pies, pies, pies. Particularly apple pies, and pear pies, and quince pies, and one that I hadn’t tried before, a mix of apples and nectarines. It was a standout, combining the tartness and sweetness of each fruit, and a quite different pairing of textures making for something truly special. I was wishing for a freezer filled with my own puff pastry, but alas, there was none. Then the mail arrived, and the latest edition of the US magazine Cook’s Illustrated hit the table, and there it was on the cover: ‘15 minute puff pastry. Food processor technique makes fast puff pastry’. Well, it does and it doesn’t.

This pastry was no more than what stacks of cookbooks have labelled ‘rough puff’ pastry, and that is a much better title for what comes out of the whizzer. The true dinks puff pastry, better thought of, from my point of view, as flaky pastry, takes an afternoon to put together. Not an afternoon dedicated to labour, but an afternoon of commitment, nevertheless. Flaky pastry involves all sorts of turns, aimed at trapping butter between ever thinner layers of a paste of water, flour and butter. It is indeed a thing of genius, if you think how ancient it is, and how finely put together it is, and how unbelievably delicious it is. Fact is, if you’re into cooking, you must make your own flaky pastry at least a few times a year. It is really only half an hour’s work, spread over an afternoon watching or listening to the footy or the cricket.

But the quickie pastry from the magazine is worth having in your bag of tricks. It isn’t as flaky as the real thing, but it’s marvellously tasty and very delicate. And, as the mag says, it’s a cinch to make.


250 g plain flour

250 g cold butter, cut into cubes

a little water


Put the lot into the whizzer, and process until it all comes together, into a roughish ball.


You will need a couple of sheets of greaseproof paper to roll out the dough. Put one on the bottom and one on the top and roll out to a thickness of half a centimetre, and the shape of a rectangle.


Allow to rest for a few minutes, then fold the long side upon itself from both sides, to join in the middle, then fold again. Think of it as the start of making a paper plane. When the folds are done, you will have a long thin strip of pastry, with four obvious layers. Roll along its length, like you’re rolling a length of carpet.


That’s it, the pastry is ready to go. Allow it to rest for half an hour or so in the fridge, then roll out for any purpose you like.


4 new season’s Granny Smith or Jonathan apples, with a touch of tartness

juice of 1 lemon

a little sugar to taste

4-6 late-season nectarines, perfect and firm, sliced in 1-cm-thick slices – Discard the stone.


beaten egg


Peel and core the apples, slice into eighths, and toss through the lemon juice and sugar. (The amount of sugar depends on the tartness of the apples. Better to have too little than too much. You need to taste the apples and decide yourself how much sugar to add to bring out the flavour of the apple, not to camouflage that flavour with sweetness.) Cook in the microwave for 10-15 minutes on HIGH, until softened, but not disintegrated. Allow to cool.


Slice the nectarines about the stone, and remove, as well as possible, from the stone. Each nectarine should contribute about ten slices.


Roll out the pastry, shape half of it into your pie case, and put into the freezer for 10 minutes.


Pile the fruit into the pie case, cover with the remaining pastry, firmly crimp the edges and put in the fridge again.


Paint the top with egg wash, and bake in the oven at 200°C for 55 minutes, until the lid is golden and pastry is well cooked. Serve with whipped cream and/or ice cream.

WINE: You could try a botrytis-affected semillon or riesling style. The semillons tend to be richer and broader than the rieslings, which have more structure and elegance.