Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tart Queen: Le Cordon Bleu's Tart aux Pommes

I confess- I have a monkey on my back. I think I'm obsessed with tarts. I made another one- this time Tarte aux Pommes, a French classic that we made on our second day in the kitchen at LCB. This simple apple tart was one of my favorite things that we made. It's understated, with great flavor, and isn't loaded up with sugar, booze, or buttercream. All pluses in my book but not very representative of the desserts we usually made. I'm daring to share the recipe here- hopefully I won't wind up on LCB's blacklist.

Classic apple tart

200 g flour
100g butter
4 g salt
20 g sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) water
1 egg

2.5 apples
30 g butter
30 g sugar
30 ml water
vanilla (despite my complaints about boozy desserts, Calvados would be a nice substitution)

unbaked tart shell
2.5 apples
brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. To make PÂTE BRISÉE SUCRÉE, add flour, sugar, and salt to a large bowl. Chop cold butter and sablage (sand w/hands) into flour mixture. Add egg, water, vanilla and mix. Pour onto table and use the heel of your hand to finish working the butter in. Form dough into a ball, flatten and chill. When dough is cold enough to work with, dust a work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to a round about 3 mm. Roll the pastry up onto the rolling pin and then unroll over the tart pan.
2. Press the pastry into the pan with your fingers. With a thumb and index finger, mold a 1 cm horizontal lip around the inside of the rim, then roll the rolling pin over the rim to cut off the excess pastry.
3. Pinch the lip of pastry into a decorative shape with pastry pinchers or your fingers. Prick the bottom of the pastry shell all over with a fork and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

4. To prepare the apple filling, peel and core 2.5 apples and dice into small squares.
5. Brown the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped apples, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Only add water as needed depending on water content of apples.
6. Stir the apples frequently with a wooden spoon until soft and golden brown. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

7. Spoon the filling into the tart shell.
8. Peel and core the remaining apples. Cut each in half. Lay each half flat on a work surface and cut crosswise into 3 mm thick slices. Starting at the outside edge and working inward towards the center, arrange the apple slices.
9. Brush the top of the assembled tart with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar.
10. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the apples are tender and golden brown. Remove and allow to cool on
a cake rack.

Remember my last post about wishing for fall weather? If rain is a harbinger of fall then my request was certainly noted. Today was the first sunny day we've had since last week. It felt like Seattle, not Austin, around here. Now it feels like Miami. The rain is gone but it's steamy and hot.

But last weekend was definitely comfort food weather. Comfort food, for me, means lots of starchy pasta and plenty of cheese. Since I was making lasagna for Sunday dinner, I decided to make Sullivan Street Bakery's foolproof no-knead bread recipe. This is another one of my (now) staples that Jan passed on to me. The recipe is easy but does require a little advance planning. The dough mix needs to rest for about 18 hours and then rise, after shaping, for another two hours. The key is to use a pot with a heavy lid that seals in steam and heat to get a nice crust on the bread.

I use a cast iron kettle pot that looks like a depression era relic from a Hooverville campfire. A lady that Eric worked with gave it to him as some sort of show of kinship when she found out he was born in West Virginia. It was terribly sweet of her but I'm not sure why she associated the pot with West Virginia because it has made in Taiwan stamped on the bottom. Anyway, I never met her but I could kiss her now for giving us that crazy pot. It bakes the bread beautifully.


  1. Thank you very much for posting the recipe! Am going to give it a go! Please could you let me know what size pastry ring you used for the tart aux pommes? Thanks

  2. Hi Emily,
    Thanks for stopping by. I used a 9.5" tart ring. Happy baking!