Sweet Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) room temperature unsalted butter
1 large egg
For the Apple Filling:
6 medium-sized apples (2 pounds) (900 grams) (Granny Smith or other firm textured apple)
3 tablespoons (40 grams) unsalted butter, divided
1/4 - 1/2 cup (50 - 100 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
Confectioners' Sugar for browning the top of the tart.
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup (120 ml) apricot preserves
1 tablespoon Cognac, Calvados, Rum or Water
Sweet Pastry Crust: Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened. 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 out the pastry into an 11 - 12 inch (28 - 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. 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 pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto top of tart pan. Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan). Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan. Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line the unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill tart pan with pie weights or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake crust for 20 to 25 minutes until crust is dry and lightly browned. Remove weights and cool crust on wire rack.
For Apple Tart: For bottom layer of apples: Peel, core, and slice three of the apples. In a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon (13 grams) unsalted butter and stir in between 2 - 4 tablespoons (25 - 50 grams) of the sugar, the lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Add the apples and saute over moderate heat, stirring occasionally for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Gently mash the apples with the back of a spatula or spoon and stir the mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool.
For top layer of apples: Peel, core, and cut the apples into slices 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick. Melt 1 tablespoon (13 grams) butter in a large skillet over medium heat and stir in the other 2 - 4 tablespoons (25 - 50 grams) sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Add the apples and saute until they begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes. Set the cooked apples aside.
Spoon the applesauce mixture into the cooled pre-baked tart shell. Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles over the applesauce, and brush with 1 - 2 tablespoons (13-26 grams) melted butter. Bake the tart on a baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree F (177 degree C) oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until the apples are nicely browned and soft. Remove from oven and sprinkle the tart with confectioners' sugar, cover the edges of tart with foil, and broil it under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat until the edges of the apples are golden brown and crisp. Once the tart has cooled lightly glaze the apple slices with warm apricot glaze.
Apricot Glaze: In a small saucepan heat the apricot preserves until boiling. Remove from heat and strain to get rid of lumps. Add the Cognac or water. Use this glaze to seal the baked tart shell and to brush the top of the finished tart.
Serve the tart warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Makes 1 - 8 or 9 inch (20 or 23 cm) tart.
This classic French Apple Tart, or Tarte aux Pommes, gives you a double dose of apples, a layer of nicely flavored apple sauce topped with a layer of sauteed apples slices. You will notice that the edges of the apples are beautifully brown and crisp and this is done by placing the baked tart briefly under the broiler. 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. While I have given a recipe for making your own apple sauce, if you are pressed for time, simply replace the homemade apple sauce with store bought. Use about 1 - 1 1/2 cups (240 - 360 ml) of applesauce. 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 is still superior when first picked. Please take the opportunity, if you have an apple orchard nearby, to try locally grown varieties. Once you taste a freshly picked apple with good texture and flavor, you will no longer be satisfied with the poor selection we are faced with at our grocery stores. 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 Mutsu Golden, Rome, Stayman Winesap, Jonagold and Jonathan. This tart's flavor will depend on the type of apples used. You may want to try using two or even three different varieties for a more complex flavor.
Unlike the American's flaky pie crust that contains shortening, this tart uses the classic European Sweet Pastry Crust (Pate Sucree) which is like a Sable cookie dough. It contains both butter and an egg which gives the crust a rich sweet buttery flavor. It is pre cooked which helps to eliminate the crust getting soggy once the filling is added.