Tarte aux pommes (French apple tart)
I’ve always been very enchanted by French pastries. I think there’s nothing more stunning than a freshly baked croissant, a flaky millefeuille or a colorful macaron.
Let’s be honest, the real pastry was absolutely born in France, between the narrow streets of Paris, in those small bakeries in the South of the country, in those amazing and sweet ‘boulangeries’.
When I went to Paris a few years ago, it seemed that in those local shops nothing had changed: same products, same ingredients, same flavors. It’s like going back in the XVIIIth century, when canelés born and all the French bakers were working to create every day something to impress the Queen with. I believe France and Italy are actually very similar, because they’re both full of history, art and whatever you see is probably hundreds years old.
I can’t really describe how you feel eating an éclair along the Seine, watching a bateau-mouche that is sailing in that river which inspired poets like Jacques Prévert, with the lovely French accent as soundtrack.
Je suis son arbre, elle est mon coeur gravé
Today I’m sharing with you guys one of the most delicious and fascinating French recipes: tarte aux pommes (French apple tart). There are lots and lots of versions of this gorgeous dessert, some are made with puff pastry, some others with shortcrust pastry. My version consists of a flaky and crunchy crust, made with shortcrust pastry, topped with a smooth and velvety homemade applesauce, a thin layer of apricot jam and thinly sliced apples to decorate the top. Oh, and to make this tart as French as possible, a splash of Grand Marnier makes absolutely the difference.
For the shortcrust pastry:
- 1 stick + 3 tbsp (160 grams) unsalted butter (it needs to be cold)
- 2 1/4 cups + 3 tbsp ( 310 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (140 grams) caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- about 1 tbsp cold water (you may need a little more, probably 1 1/2 tbsp)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 5 tbsp (50 grams) apricot jam
- 2 tbsp Gran Marnier
For the applesauce:
- 26 Oz (750 grams) apples (about 3 medium-size apples)
- the juice of 1/2 lemon
- the zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp grounded cinnamon
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) butter
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp Grand Marnier
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp (15 grams) melted unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) turbinado sugar
- 3 apples
note: I’ve used Golden Delicious, but feel free to use your favorite kind of apples like Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Braebur, Jonathan,…
For the shortcrust pastry:
- place flour, salt and sugar in your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir until just combined. Then add your cold butter, cut into 1 inch (2,5 cm) cubes. Mix until you get a coarse mixture that resembles sand. Meanwhile whisk egg yolks, water and vanilla extract. When the butter and flour mixture gets a crumble texture, make a little whole in the center, add the egg yolks mixture and mix until a dough starts to form, about 30 seconds. You should end up with a compact dough, playable, but not sticky. You may need a little more of water to get the desired consistency: simply go ahead and add about 1 tsp of water a time. When that’s done, take the dough out of the bowl and knead it for 30 seconds more, giving it a round shape. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, overnight if possible. Click here to see other 2 ways to make shortcrust pastry without a stand mixer.
- While the pastry is chilling, pass the apricot jam through a strainer to make it super smooth and glossy. Mix it with the Grand Marnier and then set that aside. Have ready an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom.
- When the shortcrust pastry has chilled, knead it until it becomes playable, roll it out on a slightly floured surface until you reach a thickness of about 1/8 inch (4mm). When the pastry is the desired size, lightly roll the pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll over the top of your tart pan. Gently press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan to get rid of excess pastry. Prick the bottom of the pastry with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the pastry from puffing up as it bakes). Chill for about 1 hour or until it becomes set and firm.
- Preheat the oven at 375°F (190°C). Line the chilled pastry shell with parchment paper or foil and fill the tart with pie weights, beans or rice. Make sure that the weights are evenly distributed all over the surface of the crust. Bake it for about 20 minutes or just until the crust becomes golden and brown around the edges. When it reaches the desired color, remove it from the oven and take 0ff the parchment paper (or foil) and weights. Place the crust back into the oven for about 5 minutes or until the bottom of the crust is dry to the touch. When the tart has baked, but it is still hot, brush the entire surface with the Apricot jam and let it cool and dry completely, about 1.30 hour.
For the applesauce:
- peel your apples, cut them into quarters (making sure to remove the internal core), then in thick stripes lengthwise and eventually into 1 inch cubes. Place them in a large mixing bowl, along with the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
- in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, melt butter and dark brown sugar just until it starts to bubble. At this point add the apple cubes, give it a stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the Gran Marnier, cover with a lid and let it cook for about 20 minutes or just until the apples become soft and mushy, stirring occasionally. When the apples reach the right consistency, blend them until you get a smooth, spreadable, but thick consistency. In case it would be too thick to be blended, simply add a few tbsp of water. Let it cool completely.
- peel your apples, cut them into quarters (making sure to remove the internal core) and then into thin slices lengthwise. Place them in a microwave-save bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave them until they become soft, but not mushy, about 2 minutes (timing is based on my 750W microwave so your timing might vary).
- At this point, arrange your apple slices over a kitchen towel to cool completely and dry a little bit. Take about 6-7 slices, overlap them and roll them up: in this way you’ll get a beautiful sort of ‘apple rose’. Set it aside.
- fill the crust with your homemade applesauce, making sure to spread it evenly over the entire surface. Arrange the apples slices starting at the edge and working your way into the middle. Layer each apple, cut side down, one slightly overlapping the other, making your way all around the tart until you reach the center. Once you get to the really center of your tart, you’ll end up with a little whole: there is where you want to place your lovely ‘apple rose’. Brush the arranged apple slices with melted butter and sprinkle the top with some turbinado sugar. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for about 25-30 minutes or until the edges of the apples slices turn in a golden and slightly brown color. When the tart has cooled, brush the top with the remaining apricot glaze. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
This recipe is perfect both for a special breakfast and an amazing dinner, to finish things off with a stunning dessert.
Guys, I hope you’ve enjoyed this real ‘taste of Paris’ recipe, this was my version of a classic and stunning Tarte aux Pommes (French Apple Tart), I’m waiting for yours.
XOXO Cooker Girl.