Today is my father’s birthday. Marielle (my stepmother) got him a chef’s coat and hat… doesn’t he look professional :0)
Bonne fête Papa!
Since I was visiting him over the weekend, we obviously had to celebrate the occasion. I wanted to make something extra special for him – last year I baked a bunch of pies – a pecan pie (his favourite), an apple date pie (great combo), and a fig walnut pie. They were good… but I think I’ve improved my pie-making skills in the last year. It was time to show him what I could do!
Classic French apple tart. It’s a beautiful thing ; a thin pastry crust, filled with a light applesauce, topped by thin slices of apples. Oh… it’s a thing of beauty. And … as it turns out, isn’t all that difficult to make either. I’d always been a little put off by having to thinly slice the apples – perhaps the time I’ve spent at the Whalesbone has taught me a little patience when it comes to these tasks :0)
I am so proud of this tart. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about making something since… well… since Thanksgiving and that sweet potato cheesecake. At this point we all know that baking makes me happy – but really – if you want to feel self-satisfied… try this recipe. You’ll be patting yourself on the back (even 48 hours after making the thing!).
I used a different pastry recipe this time round – I decided to go a little sweeter; and rather than use my short crust pastry, I decided to make a pâte brisée sucrée – it was… spectacular. I’m not just saying that. Nope. My father, stepmother, brother, his friend – they all agreed – heck, my father said it was the best pie he’d ever had! Amazing!
I made the pastry in the food processor – something I haven’t done since I purchased my KitchenAid – but it turned out brilliantly. After chilling in the fridge for a few hours, it rolled out perfectly. Exhale huge sigh of relief.
Other than dealing with pastry dough, this recipe is pretty darn simple. All you need are apples, sugar, a vanilla bean, apricot jam, and butter. That’s it. And if cutting apples into fine, thin slices doesn’t really thrill you… think of how pretty it all looks :0) So worth it.
pâte brisée sucrée
2 c. flour, sifted
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. cold butter, cut into cubes
7 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp water
In the bowl of your food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt. Then add the cubes of cold butter and the heavy cream. Pulse again, about 30 – 45 seconds – you want the dough to look powdery (like grated parmesan cheese). Pinche a piece – if it falls apart in your fingers, add the extra 2 tbsp of water. Process everything together – another quick 15 seconds. At this point, you should be ready.
Pour the dough out of the food processor bowl and flatten it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour (otherwise, you can freeze up to 1 month).
tart aux pommes
1 recipe pâte brisée sucrée
8 large apples
1 lemon, cut in half
1/2 c. sugar, plus 1 tbsp for the top
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1/2 c. water
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp apricot jam, heated so it becomes a thick glaze
Peel, halve and core 4 of the apples. Rub each half with half the lemon.
Dice the apples halves into 1/3-inch cubes – you don’t want them too finely diced, but you want them small enough.
In the bowl of a medium saucepan, combine the juice of half the lemon, the diced apple, the sugar, vanilla bean and water together. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally (you don’t want to break down the apple cubes). This should take about 15 – 20 minutes, the apples will soften and all the liquid will absorb.
Allow the applesauce to cool.
As your applesauce is cooling, turn your attention to the 4 remaining apples.
Peel, core and thinly slice each apple; squeezing lemon juice (the remaining half of lemon) evenly over all the slices of apple. The lemon juice prevents the apple from oxidizing and turning brown… plus it adds a nice little tartness to them.
At the point you should be ready to assemble.
Heat your oven to 375 F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out your pastry dough – you want it to be a little larger than your tart pan.
Line your pan with your dough. Top the dough with your cooled applesauce (remember to remove the vanilla bean); then start placing the slices of apple around the side of the tart, overlapping the pieces so that they fit tightly against one another.
You are creating a ring of apple slices around the outside… and continuing through to the centre of the tart.
Brush generously with the melted butter and sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar.
Place on the lower rack in your oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
At that point, move the tart to the centre of the oven (it’ll allow the apple slices to caramelize a little) – and if your tart crust is darkening a little too much (as occurred in my case) – cover the exposed rim with some tin foil (it prevents the dough from burning and allows the top to turn a golden colour). Bake for another 10 minutes – you want the apples to be tender and the juices will be bubbling.
Take the tart out of the oven, and brush it with the warm apricot glaze (I removed the excess crust – that had slightly burnt).
That’s it. Simple eh?
Je suis tellement fière! :0)