Sweet Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120 ml) (150 grams) apricot preserves
1 tablespoon Water or Grand Marnier, Cognac, Calvados, or Rum
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (300 grams) lightly sweetened applesauce (homemade or store bought)
1 1/2 pounds (675 grams) firm textured apples (about 3 medium-sized apples) (Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, etc.)
1 tablespoon (13 grams) butter
2-4 tablespoons (25-50 grams) granulated white sugar (depending on sweetness of your apples)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Sweet Pastry Crust: Place the butter in your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until softened. (You can use a hand mixer or just mix with a wooden spoon.) Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg, beating just until incorporated. (Don't over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color.) Add flour and salt and mix just until it forms a ball. (Don't overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.) Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate about one hour or until firm.
Have ready an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into an 12 - 13 inch (30 - 33 cm) circle. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness).
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. Never pull your pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan). Gently press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. Prick bottom of pastry with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the pastry from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line the chilled unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or foil. Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice, or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake crust for about 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and remove the parchment paper and weights. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the crust back into the oven for about 3-5 minutes or until the crust is dry to the touch.
Apricot Glaze: In a small saucepan heat the apricot preserves just until boiling. Remove from heat and strain to get get rid of lumps. Add the Grand Marnier or water. With a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the bottom and sides of the pastry shell. (This seals the crust and prevents it from getting soggy.)
For Apple Tart: Spoon the applesauce into the cooled pre-baked tart shell.
Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) slices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and stir in the 2 - 4 tablespoons (25 - 50 grams) sugar (depending on tartness of apples) and ground cinnamon. Add the apples and saute until they just begin to soften (approximately 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles over the applesauce, and brush with about 1 tablespoon (12 grams) melted butter. Place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet and bake the tart for 25 - 30 minutes or until the apples are soft but not mushy.
If desired, dust the top of the tart with powdered sugar, cover the edges of tart with foil, and place under a preheated broiler, about 4 inches (10 cm) from the heat, until the edges of the apples are golden brown and crisp. Watch carefully. Once the tart has cooled lightly glaze the apple slices with warm apricot glaze.
Serve the tart warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Makes about 8 servings.
This classic French Apple Tart (Tarte aux Pommes) gives you a double dose of apples. It begins with a pre baked Sweet Pastry Crust (Pate Sucree) which has a wonderfully crisp texture and a sweet buttery flavor. Next, comes a layer of lightly sweetened apple sauce that is topped with artfully arranged apples slices. You will notice that the edges of the apples are beautifully caramelized and this is done by placing the baked tart briefly under the broiler (you can also use a handheld propane torch). The finishing touch is to glaze the apples with apricot preserves to give them an attractive sheen with the added bonus of keeping the apples wonderfully moist. I like to serve this French Apple Tart warm with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of softly whipped cream or creme fraiche.
As I mentioned above, this French Apple Tart has two layers of apples. For the applesauce you can use homemade or store bought. If you would like to make your own, there is a recipe on the site, along with a video. Whatever the fruit, its harvest time is our signal that the fruit is at its optimum flavor. Apples are no exception. Although apples do store well, their texture and flavor are still superior when first picked. Please take the opportunity, if you have an apple orchard nearby, to try locally grown varieties. So although this recipe suggests using Granny Smith apples, you can substitute any firm apple that will keep its shape when baked. Some suggestions of locally grown apples that I use are Braeburn, Honey crisp, Mutsu Golden, Rome, Stayman Winesap, Jonagold and Jonathan. You may want to try using two or even three different varieties for a more complex flavor.