Emergency Apple Tart

I don’t have much with me at the moment. I’m surrounded by half opened boxes, yawning suitcases and the ghosts of my former self.  There’s a curious meeting going on, between my urgent need to nest and have things clean, ordered and tidy, and the old me; the one who didn’t really cull things properly before she packed up her life to move to London.

It means I’m opening boxes in the kitchen and frequently calling out ‘What the…?!’ For instance;

Why in heavens, did I own 18 noodle bowls?

Why did I have four whisks, none of which were any good?

And how many tea pots did I think I really needed? (I’ve found four so far, swaddled in fading newspaper).

Meanwhile, as deflated bubble wrap gathers around my feet,  all I want to do is see old friends and family and fondle the impossibly tiny onesies that have been loaned and bestowed to us ahead of the Stowaway’s arrival.

The cupboards may be filling up with crockery, but there’s not a lot in the pantry. A few days ago we did a rushed trip around an Australian supermarket, marvelling at how wide the aisles were, how cheerful the staff were- and that someone would happily bag our goods for us. Beyond the hygienic essentials; cleaning products, shampoo that smells like green apples, into the trolley went subsistence items; milk, butter, flour, olive oil, sugar, cheese, salt, oats, yoghurt, frozen berries, jarred morello cherries and a sack of apples. I figured we could live on that for a while. I was right.

And today was a big day. It was the first time I got to see my Dad, since his last dance with mortality.  It was lunch in the sun, on his deck overlooking the boats of Church Point.


It called for a simple dessert. The initial plan was to pick up a French apple tart at a patisserie en route- but when I woke this morning it dawned on me that I already had all the fixings for a rustic alternative. It would be something that would let me christen the kitchen – and something a little thriftier too (there are lots of things to get used to here in Sydney- the cost of living being just one of them- ouch).

This tart is a derivation of Amanda Hesser’s famed Peach Tart – it’s her go-to emergency recipe- the sort of  thing you pull out when you need a dessert but all you have access to is a bowl, a fork, a knife and a tart tin.


The crust is biscuity- it crumbles like shale- and if you’re not careful (or familiar) with your oven, it can catch and scorch. But the genius element is that it doesn’t need to be blended or kneaded like pastry- there’s not even any butter. It’s just a rough mash of olive oil, flour and a slash of milk that’s pressed into a loose bottom tin with confident fingers.

Over the top goes sliced fruit. The gentle sag of stone fruit is delightful, but thinly sliced apples work just as well. And then there’s some syrupy sweetness from a pooling rubble of sugar and butter that’s crumpled together.

You could add some almond meal for additional bulk, or flaked almonds over the top for texture. The only two things that it calls for is a puddle of dairy on the side (custard, yoghurt, ice cream or creme fraiche will all suffice) – and for you to keep a close eye on it.

Ours got a little singed on the surface. I’d forgotten that my Sydney oven runs a little hot. I’d also got distracted by a book that I found in which I used to inscribe  before I went to sleep all the good things that had happened that day; before we left I was training my brain to filter for the good.

One day back then listed; ‘great apple tart, lovely chat with mum, dinner with dad and linda, sunshine on my back’.

It’s nice to know that some things never change.

Emergency Apple Tart

Makes one 11-inch tart; serves 6

Adapted from the genius ‘Peach Tart’ recipe from Amanda Hesser, on Food52.


1 1/2 cups plain flour
pinch  of  salt
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup mild olive oil (or 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup vegetable oil)
2 tablespoons milk
Optional – 1 tablespoon amaretto or almond extract
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
4  pink lady apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 tbsp of morello cherries, drained

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F.

2) In a bowl combine the flour, salt and teaspoon of sugar. Stir to combine.

3) In a measuring jug whisk together the oil, milk and amaretto/almond extract.

4) Use a fork to rustically combine the flour mix with the oil/mix. Stir to combine into a rough batter.

5) Use the tips of your fingers to press the dough into the base of a loose bottom flan tin and up the sides.

6) Peel and core your apples.

7) Slice into pieces about 3 mm thick.

8) Nestle the drained or fresh pitted cherries in and amongst the apples (you could also substitute for blueberries, blackberries or raspberries).

9) Use your fingers to mash together the cold butter and the sugar. Dab small nuggets of it over the top of the fruit.

10) Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t catch from the heat too much.  Serve warm or at room temperature with yoghurt, cream fraiche, custard or ice cream.


  1. Beautiful-looking tart! And such a wonderful view. I haven’t been to Church Point in years!

  2. Did I miss something, are you back in Australia? The cost of living here is getting beyond a joke, I agree!

  3. I can never get the dough right for tarts so I end up pressing it into the dish as well. A recipe where this is encouraged? Count me in.

Leave a comment


{ 4 Trackbacks }