Gluten-free & Vegan Apple Tart with a Lemon, Gin & Thyme Glaze...

When I started writing this yesterday, it was Wednesday, but my "inner weekday calendar" was on Monday because we only returned from our Easter break the day before which strangely felt like Sunday, because Monday felt like Sunday (being a Bank Holiday) which obviously doesn't make any sense anymore, and since I've been catching up with work I'm back to feeling like yesterday was Monday and today is only Tuesday. Though the bin men have already been round this morning which clearly means it's Thursday... Ok, I give up. I've not only confused myself, but probably you as well. Pass me some coffee and let's start again... 

It's been a little while since my last post and I have to admit that I'm currently struggling a bit with things, be that blogging, Instagram-ing, or just generally feeling creative. In a way I feel like social media has come to a point where it's wiping out creativity (if it ever was about it in the first place) in favour of "likes" and I know I'm not alone in feeling like that. Looking around, I can't help notice that things have started to feel forced rather than being created and shared for the love of it. It's not about showing anything personal, a process or something different, but about numbers alone and it's seemingly more important to churn out the same formula over and over again because it gets "likes". There's no progression and when I look through my feed, I often see the same thing from the same people again and again. Sure, the colours might change a little, as might the subject matter, but there's such a strong feel of "well, this works, this is what people like, I know how to do this one thing" to it. The images feel like "painting by numbers": place this here, that there, move this a little, done. I'm finding myself looking at these images and they leave me completely cold. They don't inspire me, they don't make me go "wow, this is gorgeous", I've seen it too many times. Of course we're all chasing the numbers to an extent, it's part of the world we live in and success is to an extent measured by those numbers. And if you don't want to lose out in this numbers game, then it might feel risky to step away from a tried and tested approach. However, it makes me question what this kind of success means in the long term if it is built solely on numbers that have come from the same kind of images and there's never anything new emerging or being tried out. How does a creative person ever evolve without challenging themselves and their audience? And what if this particular way of doing things suddenly goes "out of fashion"? Does that leave people scratching their head searching for the next big thing that will bring in those "likes" or is that the proverbial kick we occasionally need to find our own way? I've discovered that the accounts I truly like are the ones that have a visually beautiful mix of subjects, be that food, travel, interiors, people or nature, and where the photographer still manages to work with their own style. Some of them are huge (in social media terms), some of them less so, but all have an honest feel to them that says "this is what I like to post, it's all part of my world" rather than sticking to the same thing in a thousand images... 

Anyway, back to this post and the apple tart. A while back I made this gluten-free and vegan apple tart which had taken quite a few attempts to get right. The trickiest part really was the gluten-free shortcrust which just never seemed to completely come together. Turns out that it required more water than a normal shortcrust and it helped immensely to roll it out between two layers of cling-film. Lesson learned on two levels: I need to keep challenging myself and what I do to stay interested and creative (like gluten-free and/or vegan baking etc.) and using gluten-free flour is not without its pitfalls. Here then the recipe: 

Ingredients:

  • 180g plain gluten-free flour
  • 40g cornflour
  • 2tsp xantham gum
  • 85g Trex (vegetable shortening)
  • around 6tbsp ice water
  • 3-4 medium apples
  • 2tbs lemon marmalade
  • 1tbs gin
  • 1tsp fresh thyme leaves

How it's done:

  • sift the flour, cornflour and xantham gum together into a large bowl or mixer bowl
  • add the Trex cut into small pieces
  • using the paddle attachment of your mixer (on a slow speed) or your hands, work the flour and fat until you have a crumbly texture
  • now add the water one tablespoon after another whilst regularly checking the dough isn't too wet
  • form a ball, wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for half an hour
  • preheat your oven to 180C
  • grease the tart form
  • take the dough out of the fridge and carefully roll it out between two pieces of cling film
  • place the dough into the greased tart form
  • half the apples (don't peel!) and remove the cores - this is easiest with a melon-baller
  • now cut the apple halves length-wise into thin slices whilst keeping the halves as the overall shape
  • place the sliced apple halves on top of the dough in the tart form moving them slightly for best fit
  • you can (but don't have to!) now fold the edges of the dough over the apples 
  • place the tart into the oven and bake for 40 minutes
  • once the tart is baked, remove from the oven and set aside
  • in a small pan, combine the lemon marmalade, gin and thyme
  • bring to a quick boil whilst stirring
  • once all the ingredients are combined, brush them over the tart
  • leave to cool before serving