“And raspberry jam and apple tart,” said Bifur.
-An Unexpected Party, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
In the idyllic world of Hobbiton, where cozy Hobbit holes dot the landscape, the ancient fruit known as the apple finds its way onto tables in delightful dishes. From the pages of Tolkien’s masterpiece to our own kitchens, recreate the classic apple tart and raspberry jam that graced the table at The Unexpected Party.
Rediscovering Heritage: The Apple Varieties of Hobbiton
Among the pages of The Hobbit, one can almost taste the nostalgia that clings to the apple tart and raspberry jam. To truly embrace the spirit of Hobbiton, consider using the heritage variety that would have been familiar to J.R.R. Tolkien himself—the Bramley’s Seedling apple. A quintessentially British delight, these apples, large, green, and slightly blushed with red, were lovingly preserved by local producers like Starkey Bramley, who safeguarded them from a destructive fungus. By supporting local producers, we contribute to the preservation of these heirloom treasures, preventing these varieties from becoming lost.
Post rewritten and recipe updated January 2021. First posted January 2013.
Crafting a Hobbit-Approved Apple Tart
Creating an apple tart that evokes the comforts of Hobbit life is simple. The recipe closely mirrors that of an apple pie, with one notable distinction—the absence of the upper crust. While authenticity calls for a separation of the apple tart and raspberry jam (at Bifur’s request in The Unexpected Party), a dash of creative liberty can see the jam mingling within the tart.
A Timeless Treat Prepared in Advance
For those inclined to prepare for their Hobbit party ahead of time, crafting the pie dough in advance is a wise step. While a week-long freeze is possible, 1-2 days in the refrigerator will suffice if you prefer to store it chilled. Additionally, an updated twist has been added to the recipe since I first wrote it in 2013—cooking the apples whole to reduce their moisture content, thereby minimizing excess liquid within the pie. A delightful revelation awaits those who choose to pour this syrupy elixir into mugs, topped with boiling water for a sip of autumn comfort.
A Whimsical Pairing: Apple Tart and Cheese
In the merry realm of a Hobbit hole, Bofur requests mince pies and cheese. While it’s conceivable he desires cheese as a stand-alone with bread, historical practices suggest an apple pie or tart accompanied by cheese was a common English tradition. Aged cheddar, Derby, or Wensleydale cheeses all delicious accompaniments alongside these baked delights, a splendid alternative to the familiar cream or American ice cream.
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- Wynne, P. Apples; History, Folklore, Horticulture and Gastronomy. Hawthorn Books, 1975.
- Sheppard, Emma. ‘After Brexit people will fall in love with English apples again’, The Guardian, 28 April 2017