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O connell apple tart main 2020
Mum's apple tart with the famous Cullahill pastryHarry Weir

O'Connell family recipe: Mum's apple tart with Cullahill pastry

This is a family favourite of the O'Connell's from Cullahill, Co. Laois. It is their mum's recipe for which she was famous locally, hence the name.

Serving: 8-12
Time: 1 1/2 hours +
Difficulty: Easy


For the pastry:

  • 225g (8oz) butter
  • 40g (1 1/2oz) castor sugar
  • 2 eggs, preferably free range
  • 350g (12oz) white flour, preferably unbleached

For the filling:

  • 675g (1 1/2 lbs) Bramley Seedling cooking apples
  • 150g (5oz) sugar
  • 2-3 cloves
  • Egg wash, made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk
  • Castor sugar for sprinkling

To serve:

  • Softly whipped cream
  • Barbados/dark muscovado sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. First, make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream).
  3. Add the eggs one by one and beat for several minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the flour slowly.
  4. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours otherwise it is difficult to handle.
  5. Roll out the pastry 3mm (1/8 inch) thick approx. and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. For the tin use 18cm (7 inches) x 30.5cm (12 inches x 2.5cm (1 inch) deep.
  6. To make the filling, peel, quarter and dice the apples into the tart, sprinkle with sugar and add the cloves. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender, approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
  7. When cooked cut into slices, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and Barbados sugar.


This recipe is so well-loved that it is now taught in Ballymaloe Cookery School by Darina and Rory. 

"The pastry is made by the creaming method, so people who are convinced that they suffer from 'hot hands' don't have to worry about rubbing in the butter in this recipe." – David O'Connell

To make a rhubarb tart you make the pastry in exactly the same way but use approximately 900g (2lbs) red rhubarb, sliced about 1cm/1/2 inch thick, and approximately 175g-225g (6oz-8oz) sugar instead of the apples.