Apples. Floral, acidic fruits. The first alphabet is almost always introduced in English by it’s name. The star of many sauces, foods and desserts. And yet, it does get boring to eat apple crumble 5 times in a row when I make an apple dessert.
I love apples. They are not my favourtite fruit, I admit, but I don’t dislike them. Yet, when I saw how pretty French Apple Tarts look, I couldn’t help but WANT a slice! Well, truth be told, I was in a dilemma. If I took a slice, then I’d be destroying the prettiness of the entire tart. If I didn’t get a taste, then it would have defeated the purpose of tart-making anyway.
So I decided to forge ahead with my pretty pretty, but surprisingly really easy to make, tart. Destruction of aesthetics or not, I’m determined to have my tart and eat it too.
The lovely part of a French Apple Tart is how it contains 4 layers. The sweet tart layer at the bottom, then apple compote, apple slices and finally the apricot glaze. It’s delicate and beautiful, yet not difficult at all.
So as with all tarts, we must start with a simple crust. Being a French Apple Tart, we would only need a bottom crust. I’m not very much a crust person (I know! all the pie people must be shouting at me now) so that is good news for me.
Basic tart crust ingredients include:
Flour, Sugar, Cold Butter, Cold Water, Egg Yolk
Pulse up the butter, flour and sugar until it forms sandy pea-sized crumbs. Thank God for food processors! In hot humid weather like this, unless you have very cold hands or work like the Road Runner, having an implement like a food processor or pastry blender is the way to guarantee a flaky tender crust.
Beat the yolk with cold water and pulse that in until a soft dough forms then stop immediately. It took me less than 10 pulses. Probably 6 or 7.
Pat out the dough into a disc on a well floured board. I wrapped it with cling wrap and left it in the fridge until when I need it. So yes, this is a convenient do-ahead recipe.
The next part that can be done ahead is the apple compote. 2 apples would need peeling and cubing. A good sweet apple would make for a nice compote. I found some called “NZ Beauty” which had a nice floral note and sweet without being sugary.
Once cubed, the apples are mixed with some Lemon Zest, Brown Sugar, Mixed Spice and Water.
It gets cooked for a while, covered, until the apples are tender. Then we want to squish it with a fork until it becomes chunky puree like. I tried with a potato masher. Not a good idea. The traditional fork method is still better.
I left it in a bowl to cool.
I was planning on rolling out the dough the next morning but since I
was too excited had some free time at night, I decided to get done whatever I could. So out came the chilled dough.
The dough has to be rolled out large enough to fit my 8 inch and then some, just to ensure enough comes up the sides nicely.
Then the dough is transferred onto the pan and trimmed. I like to fold the dough lightly into a quarter and then unfold it into the pan. Always works for me better than rolling it onto the rolling pin.
You know what comes next. Yup, the apple compote. It’s simply just pouring everything in and smoothing it out. I covered it with cling wrap and left it in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, I take all of 10 minutes to peel, core and thinly slice 2-3 NZ Beauty apples. To arrange slices, just start on one corner and keep going round and round…
…and round and round until you get this! Like an escargot 🙂 So pretty right? Yet so easy! 2 tbsp of coarse sugar is sprinkled over for some sweetness and sparkle then in it goes to the oven.
Meanwhile, I heat up some apricot jam in the microwave to thin it out.
Once the tart is nice and brown, The thinned out apricot jam is brushed on for a nice shine and an added dimension of fruity flavour.
And there is your pretty pretty French Apple Tart!
I took this to the assembly for lunch and was firmly told that I should have made it bigger and thicker. So, people, if you’re going to make this, make 2, 3, 4, 5 tarts because it’s never going to be enough. 😀
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons.” (Song of Songs 2:3)
French Apple Tart
lightly adapted from Kin Community
1 1/4 cups Flour
1 tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt (omit if using salted butter like I did)
1/2 cup cold unsalted Butter, cubed
1 Egg Yolk
2 tbsp Ice Water
For the compote:
2 NZ Beauty (or Gala) Apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 cup Water
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
Zest of 1 Lemon
For the topping:
2 NZ Beauty (or Gala) Apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/8 ” thin
2 tbsp Apricot Jam, heated until liquefied
juice of 1/2 a Lemon
- *In a bowl of a food processor combine flour, salt and sugar and pulse until combined. And butter cubes a few at a time, pulsing quickly until dough resembles a coarse meal. Beat egg together with water. Add egg mixture, slowly, pulsing just until dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a ball and then pat down into a disk. Wrap disk in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or pop in the freezer for 10)
- *Meanwhile, place apple chunks, water cinnamon and zest in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Cover and bring to a boil and let cook for 10 mins.
- *Simmer uncovered until most of the liquid is evaporated. Mask apples into a paste with a fork. Allow to cool completely, it will thicken as it cools.
- *Roll out dough onto a floured surface and fit into a 9″ tart pan. Spread a single layer of compote on the bottom, and place in freezer while you prep your apples.
- *Peel, core and slice apples very thin, about 1/8 ” thick. Place in bowl and squeeze with lemon juice to prevent browning.
- Remove tart from the freezer. When placing the apples the idea is to create an escargot pattern. Starting from the outside and working your way into the center. Layer each apple, cut side down, one slightly overlapping the other, making your way all around the tart until you reach the center.
- Bake at 400 for 20 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 10 more minutes. Then place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes just until the apples begin to get lightly charred.
- Place the jam in the microwave and heat on high for 15 secs or until melted. Brush tart with jam to create a nice shine.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Note: Steps marked with an * indicates that they can be done ahead of time. I did that and the tart still turned out great. The extra refrigeration time is helpful in this warm weather.