Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness — John Keats had it right about autumn.

We can smell the fallen apples among the crunchy leaves, and buy bright ones in heaps at markets and in shops. An apple tree must be the best investment ever, delivering produce for years. Great specimens are available, €17 to €28, at futureforests.ie.

A good, tart Bramley cooker is ideal, but I use sweet apples too. The easiest way of using apples is to make a cake, adding small chunks to a simple mixture of an egg, its weight (usually 50g/60g each) in butter, caster sugar and plain flour (and 1.5tsp baking powder to three eggs). Add the flour and apple when the rest is creamy and bake in a tin or cupcake cases for 15 to 30 minutes at 180C/ 400F/ Gas 4.

If you have time, a pastry case is simple to make, and a decent apple tart is satisfying comfort food. I use a blender for the pastry and chill it in a ball for an hour when I’m not in a rush.

The samples we tried improved by heating, some claggy before we did.

Microwaving will ruin pastry, so heat when baking or roasting something else to make the best use of expensive oven heat.

The best buys were from bakeries who deliver every day and don’t have to use preservatives in the pastry.

Cameron Bakery Apple Tart 1.2kg €15

Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

With a pastry lattice pattern on top, this was the largest of our tarts and better value than the price appears. It would make a lovely gift to serve at least 10. Slicing beautifully, the generous amount of apple has a delicious toffee-like taste. The pastry is light and full of flavour. This three-year old bakery is a find on 25 Washington St, Cork. Individual tarts also available. Tops with tasters.

Score: 9.25

Marks & Spencer British Apple Pie 755g €4.80

Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

From the frozen cabinet, this raw, shortcrust pastry pie needs to be baked for 70 minutes. It’s well worth the wait for a deliciously crisp pastry which has a touch of caramel going through the generous apple filling. You could pass this off as your own. Good price.

Score: 9

Hassetts Bakery Apple Tart 900g €5.50

Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

Good value here, the pastry delivering a nice, clean finish on the palate, crunchy around edges. Voted one of the nicest pastries with an appetising glaze on it. Plenty of well-balanced nicely tart apple. A good, old fashioned, proper tart. Good value.

Score: 8.75

Natural Foods Bakery slice 180g €2.90

Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

Available in full size to order, tasters liked the warm clove flavour, with a hint of cinnamon, and sprinkling of slivered almonds on top. More cake-like in texture than pastry. Delicious.

Score: 8

Quay Co-Op Vegan Apple Tart 700g €4.95

Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

Made with dairy-free margarine, this pale tart had less flavour than if made with butter, but with no unnatural aftertaste. The fruit was plentiful and natural. The label promised cinnamon, but we tasted none. Needs to be heated, though it didn’t improve taste as much as hoped.

Score: 7.25

Tesco Finest Bramley Apple Tart 800g €5

Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

Nicely tanned, this tart looked appealing. The pastry was a little claggy and improved with heating, and the apple had a nice, not overcooked, bite. More like what we expect in a tart.

Score: 7

Aldi Gráinne’s Apple Tart 600g €1.99

Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

The pastry here was nicely browned, but it was claggy in the mouth. When we heated it in the oven for 15 minutes at 160C it improved greatly. A generous amount of apple was a little too sweet for testers.

Score: 6

Doreen’s Apple Tart 600g €4.81

Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

“Too much heavy pastry, not enough apple” was the cry when served cold, but when we heated it for 15 mins at 160C it crisped up and the crunch made it much more interesting. We bought in SuperValu.

Score: 6

More on this topic

Something from the bar: The perfect drink selections this ChristmasSomething from the bar: The perfect drink selections this Christmas

Darina Allen: A feast of food and lots of funDarina Allen: A feast of food and lots of fun

Your go-to guide to laying the perfect Christmas table Your go-to guide to laying the perfect Christmas table

The Currabinny Cooks: Festive side plates to dish up this ChristmasThe Currabinny Cooks: Festive side plates to dish up this Christmas

More in this Section

A Question of Taste with Fr Brian D'ArcyA Question of Taste with Fr Brian D'Arcy

Rapper Aitch on quitting his job to pursue music full-timeRapper Aitch on quitting his job to pursue music full-time

The book that delves into the details of Harry Clarke's stained glass windowsThe book that delves into the details of Harry Clarke's stained glass windows

Not just for December: The reason why she should grow more houseplants all year roundNot just for December: The reason why she should grow more houseplants all year round


Latest Showbiz

The former Strictly star will channel his inner Richard Gere in the stage production.Danny Mac lands major role in West End musical Pretty Woman

Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor will remain on the channel.Simon Cowell signs new five-year deal with ITV

James Haskell, Nadine Coyle and Emily Atack were also seen touching down in London.In Pictures: I’m A Celebrity stars land back in the UK

The adaptation of Louise May Alcott’s book stars Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet.Greta Gerwig’s Little Women among SAG snubs

More From The Irish Examiner