THIS is an apple recipe which is best made from eating apples, as the Bramley apple I usually recommend for most dishes will prove too soft to hold its shape during cooking.

As you may well have plenty of crisp eating apples in the fruit bowl at the moment, and possibly a jar of unused Christmas mincemeat tucked away in the larder, this attractive pudding can be made easily.

It's ideal as a standby when unexpected visitors turn up, but do heat it through.

The dish I feature was made from a rich short crust pastry, but you can use puff pastry if you wish. The other thing you need is a 24cm cast-iron tatin pan that can be used on both the top of the stove and oven.

You will need: For the pastry 6oz (175g) plain flour One oz (25g) caster sugar 3oz (75g) butter One free range egg yolk - beaten A little cold water Pinch salt For the filling Approx 6 to 8 crisp eating apples 3oz (75g) butter 6oz (175g) caster sugar One jar mincemeat Method: Make the pastry first and leave it to rest in the fridge. Do this by rubbing the butter into the flour, salt and sugar until it resembles breadcrumbs Mix in the egg yolk, then add about two to three tablespoons of chilled water and work together with your fingertips until you have a firm paste. Wrap in cling film and chill while you prepare the apples Turn the oven to 220C/420F or gas mark 7 Peel, core and halve the apples Heat the sugar in the cast-iron pan. When it begins to melt, add the butter and cook for a few moments or until the mix begins to take on a caramel colour Remove from the heat, pack the apples tightly into the pan on top of melted butter and sugar, with the flat-cored side up, return to the heat and continue cooking on a medium heat, with a lid on the pan until the apples are soft Remove from the heat, spoon on the mincemeat Roll the pastry into a round just a little larger than the pan, place on top of the apples, tucking the extra pastry down inside the pan, then place into a hot oven immediately Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry begins to turn a golden brown Remove from oven and allow to settle for at least five minutes, then run a sharp knife round the rim of the pan to loosen the pastry edges Place a serving plate on top of the pan, hold it firmly and turn the pan over so that the pastry is at the bottom and the gleaming apples are on top Serve warm.