It is a great time of the year for rhubarb, which is always a popular fruit on our menu when it comes to dessert. Ginger and orange flavours work sublimely with rhubarb; whether in a crumble or a tart. I like this rhubarb and plum crumble, often served warm with ice cream on the side.
And now, another childhood memory ?– the classic apple tart. This was one of the first recipes I ever made with my mother. It was probably near the end of my primary school years. I usually had a hand in making the pastry. Crumbles and pies bring back great childhood memories for many of us. As for apples, there’s a growing appreciation for Irish apples these days. Con Traas of The Apple Farm just outside Cahir, Co Tipperary, is a great producer and we often use his apple juice in the restaurant.
Cinnamon always goes very well with apples, no matter the kind. My mother used to put whole cloves in this recipe, and while that is the traditional way to do it, I always found that overpowering. Mind you, I never told her that!
Rhubarb and plum crumble
675g (1½lb) rhubarb
4 large ripe dark plums
1 vanilla pod
juice of 1 orange
5 tbsp granulated sugar
175g (6oz) plain flour
pinch of fine sea salt
75g (3oz) chilled butter, diced
50g (2oz) caster sugar
chilled cream or ice cream (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Trim and cut the rhubarb into 3cm (1¼in) pieces and put in a bowl. Quarter the plums, removing the stones, and add to the rhubarb.
2 Split the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add both to the fruit with the orange juice and granulated sugar. Put into a baking dish and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod to use again.
3 Meanwhile, to make the crumble topping, place the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar.
4 Lightly scatter the crumble topping over the fruit, then bake for 35 minutes until crisp and golden.
5 Serve warm with cream or ice cream.
Warm apple pie
300g (11oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp icing sugar
100g (4oz) chilled butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
2 large egg yolks
2–3 tablespoons ice-cold water
1kg (2¼lb) mixed Irish apples, such as Elstar, Jonagold and Golden Delicious, peeled, cored and sliced
50g (2oz) caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
chilled cream, to serve (optional)
1 Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Using a table knife, work in the butter, then mix in the egg yolks with just enough of the ice-cold water to make a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
2 Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5). Cut the pastry in half and roll one piece out on a floured work surface. Use to line the bottom of a 23cm (9in) buttered pie dish, leaving 1cm (½in) of overhang.
3 Mix the sliced apples in a bowl with the caster sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon.
4 Put in the lined pie dish. Roll out the rest of the pastry large enough to cover the apples. Beat the egg and use to brush the edges, then lay the pastry on top.
5 Crimp the edges of the pie and roll out the trimmings to decorate. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Make small slits in the top and bake for 50 to 55 minutes until golden.
6 Serve warm and cut into slices with some cream, if liked.