It has taken some time, months actually, for me to finally get around to making this apple tart.
Not that I haven’t thought about it, I have had a low level apple tart hum in my head ever since two of my favorite food blogs orangette and life in recipes posted such tarts late last year. At about the same time, I came into the happy possession of David Tanis’s book ‘A Platter of Figs’ and a certain recipe on page 48. I bookmarked, I noted, I wrote in on the kitchen blackboard, I promised myself, I bought the apples at least 3 times and then what did I do ? I apple tart procrastinated.
Yesterday, at last, inspired by Molly and Hiedi and in the capable hands (and quite frankly, lovely hands – have you seen the pictures of his hands in the book!, I am in Love with the mans hands) of Mr David Tanis, I made an apple tart, two tarts actually.
I think I may be making this tart rather a lot, it is one of the nicest, simplest and happiest recipes I have made in a while and it was most definitely the most admired and relished part of last nights dinner.
So relished in fact that I nearly had to wrestle the final slice from the hands of my Sicilian– who I should add had already had 3 slices – in order to take a photo this morning. Photos with any degree of focus were not a option after such generous pourings of Rosso di Montalcino last night ( San Felice Campogiovanni 2005 – very nice indeed) and in the presence of such Monopoly passions. Talking of Monopoly, Why do I play? it’s not like I need to be reminded I am bad with money, ‘yes, I went bankrupt again you rich fatcats with your fancy hotels.’ I don’t want to appear a bad loser, but I am, and I am never playing that STUPID game again.
Back to the tart……
This is a slip of a tart, delicate but hearty, pretty but not fussy. If apple puddings went to school, the pie would be the homely head girl, the crumble the nice but slow kid at the back and this tart the petite pretty girl with dark eyes and a french mum who makes the boys stutter.
It is very pleasing to make, rolling out the rough, imperfect rectangle of buttery pastry and then laying the thin slices of apple like cards in solitaire, pleasing to look at and quite deliciously pleasing to eat warm from the oven. The flavours are pure and uncomplicated, a plain, buttery, flaky pastry base topped with slivers of soft, slightly caramelized apples and lent sweetness and a hint of caramel by the thick, sticky apple glaze you paint on the warm tart.
I took DT’s advice and make the tart in the early afternoon, it then sat patiently in the fridge until dinner. Once we had started our main course I slid the tart into the oven, main course, ha, that sounds as if we had a very grand dinner, I assure you, it was anything but. 45 minutes later, the tart emerged, pastry crisp and apples soft and golden, I brushed it with glaze and then we waited patiently for all of 5 long minutes before we savoured and devoured the just warm tart with a big blob of cold, heavy cream.
I’m sure you know, but reminders never hurt, to allow pastry a good lazy rest in the fridge before you roll it out, at least an hour and even better 2 between making and using. Also, remember to handle pastry with startlingly cold hands, on the coolest surface possible and add iced water to the pastry, it makes big difference.
As I mentioned before if you don’t want to bake it straight away, the tart will sit happily in the fridge for 8 hours covered, don’t worry if the apples discolour, you won’t notice once it is baked.
I didn’t peel my apples this time, I will next time.
Adapted from A platter of Figs by David Tanis
- 250g all purpose plain flour (Italian 00 is great) plus extra for sprinkling
- 250g good cold butter, diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg beaten
- About 150ml iced water for pastry
- 6 medium crisp apples
- 200g caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
- 25oml water for glaze
First make the pastry
Put the flour, butter and salt into a bowl. With cold fingers purposefully work and rub the butter into the flour until it is mealy and resembles fine breadcrumbs, with some larger flecks of butter still visible.
Pour the beaten egg and 150ml of iced water into the bowl. Quickly knead the dough until it comes together, the dough will be soft, a bit sticky and a little rough looking.
Sprinkle the dough with flour and shape it into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap the dough and allow it to rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Cut the dough in half, you have enough for 2 tarts, so unless you are making two you can freeze the rest of the pastry.
Roll out one of the halves into a rough rectangle about 11″ by 16″ and transfer it to a baking sheet. Cover the pastry with clingfilm and allow it to rest in the fridge for 30mins.
Now, you can peel or not peel the apples, but either way, quarter each apple and cut away the core, set aside for later. Slice each apple quarter into thin slices and then arrange the slices in 4 or 5 rows over the pastry like cards in solitaire. Recover the tart and allow it to rest in the fridge until you are ready.
Make the glaze. In a small pan heat the sugar, water, reserved apple cores and apple skin if you have them, stir so the sugar dissolves and then simmer away into a thick syrup. drain the syrup and set aside for later.
When you are ready, preheat the oven to 190° 375f.
Sprinkle the extra sugar over the apples and then bake the tart for about 45mins or until the pastry is crisp and the apples are soft and golden.
Once out of the oven, slide the tart onto a wire rack to cool, then reheat the glaze. Once the tart is just warm, slide it onto a serving board (or leave it on the baking tray if it is a informal affair like ours) and paint it with the glaze.
Serve immediately in large squares with a blob of very cold heavy cream