In association with Red Tractor
Hoorah! It’s here! October! I can now officially start to get excited about Christmas, (possibly in secret as I’m not sure everyone is ready for it), eat warm apple crumble for breakfast, and generally embrace the deliciousness of autumn. Cooked apples and hot pudding are about as autumnal as it gets without actually putting on a halloween costume, which I why I choose to make an apple tarte tatin for this blog post.
Let’s skip back a bit though, to an email I had a little while ago from the people at Red Tractor.
‘The Red Tractor logo is ace,’ they said, (I’m paraphrasing*), ‘but we want more people to know more about it! Can you help?’
‘Of course!’ I said, rolling up my virtual sleeves and putting on my imaginary pinny. ‘Show me the meats!’
‘Well that’s just it,’ they said, ‘it’s not just about meat…’
I was intrigued. In my mind the Red Tractor logo was one of those animal welfare accreditations, the sort you look out for when you want some reassurance that your chicken hasn’t been kept in a cage and gets fresh bedding. It turns out though that Red Tractor is about much more than just animal welfare. It’s about lots of other things that we really should be thinking about when we buy food, like safety, provenance, traceability and environmental protection.
Okay, sure, but that’s just jargon isn’t it? What does that mean in practice?
Well, lots of things. Things like this in fact:
- All Red Tractor food can be traced back to the British farms where it was produced
- They don’t allow any antibiotic residues or growth hormones in their meat
- Every stage of the production process happens in the UK
- If farmers need to wash crops, it’s done with water that would be safe enough to drink
You get the idea.
What this means is that the Red Tractor logo can apply to all kinds of farm produce, including meat, but also butter, cream, flour, sugar, apples… You see where I’m going now with the tarte tatin right? In fact, every single ingredient in this recipe carries the Red Tractor logo. It’s easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. Can you spot it on all of my ingredients?
None of these ingredients are expensive – you’re not paying a premium for the Red Tractor reassurance – it’s just a case of being aware of it and picking up one type of butter over another. 75% of British food comes from Red Tractor assured farms, so it shouldn’t be hard to make the swap.
To make my tarte tatin, I made my own rough puff pastry, just to ensure that the whole thing was Red Tractor assured. If you wanted to, you could just buy ready made puff pastry and the recipe would be super speedy, but there is something nice about taking your time over something and enjoying the process.
Tarte tatin ingredients
For the pastry:
- 200g plain flour
- 200g butter, cubed
- 100ml of water
- pinch of salt
For the appley bit:
- 4 cox apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
- 50g butter
- 50g of Silverspoon caster sugar
Silverspoon is actually a really good example of a Red Tractor product, as they are the first sugar brand to carry the logo and sugar was one of the products I was surprised to see in the scheme. It might make me sound ridiculously stupid, but I didn’t actually know we made sugar at all in the UK. In my head sugar beet comes from an exotic plantation somewhere, not from East Anglia. That’s where Silverspoon sugar beet comes from though. It then travels from the farms – an average journey of just 28 miles – to the Silverspoon factory in Bury St Edmunds.
Not very exotic maybe, but interesting.
Shall we play ‘spot the Red Tractor’ again?
Okay, so that one was tricky because there were actually TWO red tractors, so extra points if you spotted the right one.
(Note: points do NOT convert into prizes, unless the prize is ‘the joy of knowing more about the provenance of your food’, which is exactly the sort of prize I would offer my children in a tea time quiz.)
Tarte tatin method
Start by making the pastry. Put the flour and salt into a bowl and work in the butter with your fingertips until it’s roughly combined. It doesn’t have to be fine breadcrumbs – the buttery streaks are important. Add the water slowly until you have a rough, firm dough. Wrap this up in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. While you wait, you might want to go and read more about the logo and what it means on the Red Tractor website.
Get your dough back out of the fridge, give it a gentle knead on a floured surface and then shape into a rectangle. Roll it out, going in one direction, being careful not to overwork it. Fold each edge in, so it looks like a tri-fold leaflet – the sort you gets stacks of in supermarkets for local farm parks and miniature railways. Turn it 90 degrees and repeat the rolling out and folding process.
Put it back in the fridge for another 20 minutes.
At this point you might want to repeat the rolling, folding and chilling process one more time, for extra puffy layers, or if you’re lazy like me, just crack on. Preheat the oven here too – 200 degrees.
To make the apples, heat the butter and sugar in a heavy based pan that will be able to go in the oven. (If you don’t have one, you could do the apple bit in a frying pan while you heat up a regular baking tray in the oven and then transfer to that for the pastry part.) Melt them gently together until they start to look like a sticky goo. Absolutely do not stick your finger in it at this point or try to taste it. (Top tip from a ‘friend’.) While this is happening, prep your apples.
When you’re at the ‘gooey burn your tongue’ stage, add the apples. If you’re going to be putting the dish straight into the oven you might want to arrange the apples into a nice pattern now. Turn down the heat and allow the apples to soften gently for around ten minutes, then take off the heat and leave to cool for just a few minutes.
While the apples cool, roll your pastry out and cut to a circle that’s just a little bigger than your pan. The pastry will shrink in a bit as it cooks, so you need a bit of leeway for this. Place the pastry over the apples, pressing down gently into the edges. Make a few steam holes in the top and pop in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until the pasty looks golden and delicious.
Once it’s out of the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a plate. Apple tarte tatin is best served warm with lashings of cream or ice cream, although I have *heard* that a slice for breakfast, cold from the fridge, isn’t to be sniffed at.
Find out more about the Red Tractor logo and what it means HERE.