Apple crumble and custard tarts

I came up with this recipe to use some left over crumble and custard. Cox apples work well as they are small and fit well into the tarts.

I am making sure all sweet recipes on the blog are small portion sizes for children. We’ve got so used to having big portions and its unsurprising that there’s a link between rising obesity rates and the trend in bigger portion sizes. I am not puritanical about cakes and desserts and think small and fruity is best!



60g plain white flour
20g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


110g plain white flour
30g caster sugar
60g cold unsalted butter
1 medium free range egg yolk
1 dessert spoon of ice cold water


120g custard
2 dessert spoons of maple syrup
3 apples (English of course)

You will also need some greaseproof paper, baking beans, pastry cutter (size), yorkshire pudding tin

How to…

… make the pastry

Rub together the butter flour and sugar until it resembles breadcrumbs. Using a food processor makes it slightly quicker though it doesn’t take too long by hand.

Add the egg yolk and the iced water and mix in well.

Turn into a bowl and clump together with your hands. Put in a sealed container in the fridge for half an hour to chill.

… make the crumble

While the pastry is chilling, make the crumble mixture by putting all the ingredients in a bowl and rubbing the mixture until it becomes the consistency of bread crumbs. If you have a food processor, all the better, though again, it doesn’t take long by hand.

…then back to the tarts

Preheat the oven to 200/400F/Gas 6. Put the ball of pastry on a floured surface and roll out quite thinly. Use a round cutter to cut out the shape.

Put the pastry in the yorkshire pudding wells and use a small cup or egg cup to gently push it in.

Once you’ve done all of the tarts – you will need to roll the pastry into a ball and roll out a couple more times to use all the pastry up.

Then on a corner of the greaseproof paper use the bottom of a cup of egg cup or use a round pastry cutter and draw round the bottom of it, it needs to fit snugly into the bottom of the tart.

Then fold over the greaseproof paper 3 times along the width of the paper.

Fold it over lengthways 4 times and then cut round the circle shape and you should have 12 circles.

Put the greaseproof paper circles into each tartlet and put baking beans on top to weigh the greaseproof paper down.

Bake so they are just light brown.

…now for the filling

Once the tartlets are out and you’ve removed the greaseproof paper and beans and they have cooled slightly you’re ready to fill them.

Spoon about a dessert spoon of custard in each tartlet. Then you need to core and peel the apples. The best way I’ve found once the apple is peeled and cored is to cut the apple into thirds downwards from top to bottom and then slice across.

Put all the apple pieces in a bowl and add 2 dessert spoons of maple syrup and coat the apple slices with this.

Then put the apple pieces on top of the custard.

Use a pastry cutters and hold it over each tart while you sprinkle the crumble mixture in.

Bake in the oven at 200/400F/Gas 6 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve while still warm.

They’ll keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, you can warm through before serving.

Nutrition bits

Each tart is just over 150 kcals which is just under 10% of a 5 year olds recommended calorie intake


Cooking on the curriculum

The previous Labour government introduced compulsory cooking at Key Stage 3 (11-14 year olds).

For a nation that has over the last 30 years lost the ability to cook, this was a great step forward in addressing the lack of an essential life skill and also therefore good eating habits.

There is no evidence anywhere that learning about healthy eating in a classroom actually makes any difference to what people eat – and why should it. The thought of sitting in a classroom learning about vitamins and minerals and fats is enough to make anyone yawn. Knowledge might be gained about healthy eating but cooking and creating transforms that knowledge into action.

Not knowing how to cook is a barrier to eating a healthy diet, so if we are serious about tackling our obesity crisis we need arm people with spatchulas and wooden spoons – and teach them how to use them.

Threat to cooking lessons

As with party politics, new governments sweep away the past government’s policy (even if it’s good) in favour of their own new policies. Expensive reviews of the curriculum were carried out under the Labour government, and here we are a couple of years later, with another curriculum review. This time though we may loose compulsory cooking for 11-14 year olds.

Michael Gove’s championing of academic subjects shows where his passion lies, but these subjects should not replace the teaching of what is an essential life skill.

A couple of years ago I worked with colleagues at City University on an evaluation of a scheme called Chef’s Adopt a School (CAAS). In the scheme Chefs went into primary schools where they taught children to prepare a basic dish. We found children who took part in the CAAS scheme had significantly higher confidence in their cooking skills and also ate more vegetables – both compared to children who had not taken part in the scheme. These differences were small but “significant” which means they weren’t down to chance.

The Children’s Food Campaign is working hard to keep cooking lessons on the curriculum. Please take action to ask your MP to sign an EDM calling on the government to keep cooking on the curriculum.

Pick up a pumpkin

I know, I know, this time of year there are so many recipes for pumpkin soup and pictures of creatively carved pumpkins. As well as giving you a super easy recipe – its extra nutritious as i’ve included red lentils to add a little protein and minerals, and there’s info on where you can pick your own in Dorset.

So first you’ve got to choose your pumpkin. We are lucky enough to live up the road from Sopley pick your own farm.

Pumpkins as far as the eye can see
My daughter didn’t pick the biggest she could find but sensibly went for one more her size – this beauty cost us all of £1.30. And if you don’t feel like trudging out to the field you can always choose one from the farm shop.


Pumpkins are not the only veg
Pumpkins are not the only veg

Before you make the soup – don’t forget to get creative …

Spooky pumpkin




Pumpkin and red lentil soup

Pumpkin and red lentil soup

Prep time: about 40 minutes
Serves: 6-8


1 pumpkin
2 onions
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 stock cubes mixed with 1-1.5 litres of water (low salt stock cubes are good for young children)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds or ground cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (ground in a pestle or between greaseproof paper with a rolling pin!) or ground coriander
100-200g red lentils

How to…

  • Peel and cube the pumpkin.
  • Dice the onion and fry in a big saucepan in the olive oil with the garlic.
  • When the onion is soft and translucent add the pumpkin and stir well.
  • Add the coriander and cumin, stir and continue to fry for about 5 mins.
  • Add the red lentils (100g for a small pumpkin 200g for a larger one) stir and fry for a few more minutes then add the made up stock – 1ltr for a smaller pumpkin 1.5 litres for a bigger one.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes and then blend.
  • Serve with bread
  • It tastes even better the next day (will last up to about 3-4 days in the fridge), you can freeze it too.

Cost: For a big pumpkin soup the cost is £3.77, each 250ml portion costs 38p.

For a 5 year old, a 250ml portion of soup has:
Just under half of their recommended daily iron
Almost three quarters of their daily recommended Vitamin A
Nearly a quarter of their daily recommended folate
Just over 10% of their recommended calcium
1 quarter of their daily magnesium

Postscript 31 October 2012

We didn’t get to Sopley farm until today and there were hardly any pumpkins left. Still, we managed to find these out in the field…


They only cost £2.70.

This year I’ve gone for smaller pumpkins as they have better flavour.

I’ve made the soup with the pumpkin flesh I scraped out and my husband’s got a roasted pumpkin and pasta recipe from the BBC website that he’ll make from the whole pumpkins. You can also make a lovely pumpkin pie with the flesh, click here for my one for gluten free, lower sugar pumpkin pie