Published on July 23rd, 2011 | by Gareth4
French apple tart
It’s been a pretty dreary week in Sydney 5 days of almost non stop rain. The obvious choice (apart from the pub) is to make something to scoff whilst watching other people hurry in from the rain. So I decided to make an old favourite of mine, French apple tart or Tarte aux Pommes à la Normande. This is a fantastic regional specialty of Normandy in northern France where there is an abundance of apples. Perfect for such a pastry and making cider.
I chose this for a number of reasons, firstly even since I was a kid it was always in my top 3 French pastries. The sweet amber glaze that makes the apple shine like it has been set in glass, the neat circular pattern of the apple segments rippling outwards to the sweet pastry crust and the all important frangipane, make this simple rustic and yet artistic food that I love. I was also told by my wife’s Uncle that the last recipe post was a bit “samey” so needed to make something that is hopefully more interesting, but I will let you decide that one.
If you are stuck for time then you can always but the pastry but that would be too easy so I made my own sweet crust pastry. As with all pastry the key is to keep it cold and don’t over work it. Its worth the extra effort as its an important part of the apple tart.
Sweet crust pastry
- 500g plain flour
- 100g icing sugar
- 250g unsalted butter
- 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
- Iced water
Frangipane and tart filling
- 80g butter
- 60g icing sugar
- 1 egg
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 tblsp plain flour
- 1 tblsp of Calvados (apple brandy), Kirsch or brandy
- 3 Granny smiths’ apples and 1 pear (usually all apples but
- Apricot jam
- To make the pastry, chill all the ingredients for 10-15 minutes before starting. I put the butter in the freezer. The measurements provided will probably be enough for 2 tarts depending on the size of the dish
(I used a 26cm dish with a pop out base)
- Sift the icing sugar and flour into a large mixing bowl.
- Cut the butter into cubes then stir into the flour mix. Now transfer to a blender. Pulse it a few times for up to 30 seconds at a time, don’t over do it though as you don’t want the butter to start to melt. After a few
blender blasts you should have a mix that resembles breadcrumbs.
- Transfer back to your bowl and mix in the cinnamon and the lightly beaten egg. I just used a fork enough to break the yolk and white up.
- The mix should be forming into larger lumps now. Gradually add a little of the iced water, 1 teaspoon.
- Using one hand, fingers spread out mix and turn into a circular motion, essentially using your hand as a whisk/spoon to bring the mix together. Handle as little as possible as you want the pastry to remain light.
- If it is still too crumbly add another teaspoon or two of the iced water.
- When the dough has formed into a ball give it a quick knead but only enough to bring all the bits together into a neat pliable ball.
- Cover the bowl with clingfilm sorry glad wrap and put in the fridge for 30 mins.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- For the frangipane the butter needs to be at room temperature. Mix the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk until smooth and creamy.
- Add the 3 eggs and the ground almond and mix in wel with a wooden spoon.
- Add the Calvados and the tablespoon of sifted flour.
- At the end you should have a sweet, aromatic nutty paste. Cover and set aside in the fridge.
- Once the pastry has chilled and rested remove from the fridge.
- Dust the work surface with plain flout and roll the dough out flat to less than ½ cm.
- Grease the baking dish with a small amount of butter so it doesn’t stick.
- Line the dish with the pastry to form a base and sides. Trim the excess off and put the dish and pastry in the fridge for another 15 minutes to let it rest further.
- Once rested, remove the pastry base from the fridge. Prick the base with a fork and put baking weights or beans on greaseproof paper in the base to stop it rising or bubbling.
- Peel, core and thinly slice the apple into quarter shapes. Submerge in water with lemon juice to stop browning.
- Blind bake the pastry base in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden, remove and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
- Gently heat 2-3 spoonfuls of the apricot jam in a saucepan as soon as it begins to bubble remove from heat.
- Spoon the frangipane mix onto the base of the part baked pastry case. You probably wont need all of it, any left over is a great filling for sweet pancakes with fruit.
- Drain the apples, dry with paper towel or a clean tea towel and arrange in a circle or spiral over lapping each piece.
- Finally gently brush the apples with the heated jam and put the tart in the oven for 25 minutes until the apples begin to brown and caramelise.
- This is a delicious dessert hot or cold either with vanilla ice cream, cream or plain custard.