January 2011, Paris. It is unusually cold. My daughter and I live in a small room a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower, on Rue de Grenelle. Our location is perfect for many reasons, but the Motte-Piquet/Grenelle Market is the best part of it. Because it is in a residential area, the prices are very reasonable. The variety of raw produce and ready-to-eat cold and hot foods is simply amazing, and we use every opportunity to taste everything we can. Our tiniest room only fit a double bed and a narrow table attached to the wall. Two cell phones and keys occupy the whole table space, so we are picnicking on our bed. See that red velvet as a background for the apple tart from the market? Sweet memories…
More, More Apples
The French apple tart, or Tarte aux Pommes, is actually a double apple tart. Between the layer of thin caramelized apple slices and buttery pastry crust, there is a creamy vanilla-flavored apple puree. Two layers of apples with different textures make this dessert a celebration of apple season. Out of all apples in the U.S., I find Minnesota Honeycrisp and River Belle the most exciting choices for this tart.
Two Ways with the Apple Slices on Top
The apple slices are par-cooked before arranging them o the tart to avoid overdrying the top layer during the baking. There are two ways of par-cooking them. If making only one small tart, it makes sense to combine 1-2 tbsp of honey and 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a hot frying pan over medium heat and quickly cook apple slices in single layer in a syrupy gastrique until soft. See the video for this method:
If making more tarts or a big one with a generous amount of apple slices, go for the method described in the step-by-step instructions below using simple syrup.
30ghazelnutsmeal (substitute with almond or pecan)
95gconfectioners powdered sugar
50gegg~ 1 large egg
for apple slices (for 1 tart, 8"D)
2appleslarge, Honeycrisp variety
3tbsplemon juicefreshly squeezed
for apple puree (for 1 tart, 8"D)
3appleslarge, Honeycrisp variety
for apple puree (for 1 tart crust, 7.5"D)
Preheat oven 350F.
Peel and core apples. Slice in half and bake, covered with foil, for 35 minutes. Remove foil with caution, because of hot steam!
Cool baked apples down to 45C/113F. Add 1/2 vanilla bean seeds, corn starch, and melted butter. Whisk to make a puree. Cool down to room temperature. (This preparation can be done in advance. Keep in a closed container, refrigerated.)
for apple slices (for 1 tart crust, 7.5"D)
Mix 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to boiling. Add lemon juice.
Peel and core apples. Slice them in half and slice each half 1/8" thin.
Pouch apple slices in batches till soft. Cool down to room temperature. (This preparation can be done in advance. Keep in a closed container, refrigerated.)
Reduce simple syrup till thick like honey, with concentrated sweet and sour apple flavor. (This preparation can be done in advance. Keep in a jar, refrigerated. )