Friday, February 24, 2012

French Apple Tart

The Sunday Food Section of a 1987 edition of the Dallas Morning News published a recipe for French Apple Tart.  The recipe was provided by Univanille International which was a vanilla growers’ cartel in Paris.  I’m not sure this group is still active.
There are several components to this tart; the crust, a filling, the apples and a glaze.

The crust was the most intriguing.  It is truly like no other that I’ve made.

Never have I used ¼ cup of cinnamon in anything.

Also, it is called a Vanilla Crust but believe me, it’s a cinnamon crust. 

Just look at how dark the dough is!  The cinnamon is such a prominent flavor, you can’t detect the dibby dabby  amount of vanilla at all.

The crust mixed up easily and rolled out between two sheets of wax paper lessened the stickiness issue.

Roll your pin over the top of the tart pan to trim extra crust.

Preparing the applesauce filling was a little strange.  You start out with 17-1/2 ounces of unsweetened applesauce and cook it down to only 16 ounces (2 cups).  With such a small reduction the applesauce neither thickened up nor developed any depth in flavor as you would expect when you reduce something, so I’m not sure why this step was necessary.

The preparation of the apples and the glaze were simple enough.

Peeling, coring and slicing apples has been a breeze with this brilliant little apparatus.

I purchased it from L.L. Bean over 15 years ago when Lovey began requesting an apple pie twice a week.  Through the years it has become a dear companion.

Assembly was also elemental.

The applesauce/apricot mixture is poured into the semi-baked pie crust.

Then the apple slices are placed on top of the filling in concentric circles.

The tart baked up nicely and the glaze was carefully brushed onto the baked apples.

I let it cool overnight before trying a piece.  The tart produced a lot of liquid (applesauce perhaps??) that seeped away from the tart, onto the pie plate.  In taste testing, it was not too sweet.  The crust was definitely cinnamon-y; almost had some heat to it, like fresh ginger does.  But, I must say it is not a bad crust.  The tart as a whole was a little bland but could have potential with a couple of changes. Lastly, I think a scoop of a good quality vanilla ice cream on top would make it oh so much better.

French Apple Tart
Serves 8

For the Crust
1-1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon
1/3 cup cold butter
2 Tbsp. cold water
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mise en place:
  • cut butter into cubes and keep in refrigerator
  • measure out water and keep in refrigerator
  • measure flour, sugar & cinnamon into a food processor  bowl (be sure to fit the metal wing blade in the bowl before putting ingredients in)
  • separate egg
  • measure out vanilla
  • spread a sheet of plastic wrap onto counter top
Process the dry ingredients with a couple of pulses to blend together.  Add the cold butter cubes and process until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Through the feed tube, add 2 Tbsp. cold water, the egg yolk and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Process just until the mixture leaves sides of bowl and forms a ball.

On plastic wrap, flatten to a 5-inch round.  Wrap and chill at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

When you are ready to roll out your dough, work quickly and roll on a lightly floured board or between sheets of wax paper into a 12-inch round.  Ease into a 9-inch tart pan.  Trim by rolling your rolling pin gently over the top of the tart pan edges.  Chill until firm.  Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 5 minutes.  Chill before filling.

For the Filling & Apples
1 (171/2 ounce) jar unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup apricot preserves
3 Tbsp butter (divided)
2 tsp vanilla extract
12 ounces tart apples
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Mise en place:
  • Measure out applesauce, preserves, & vanilla and set aside
  • divide butter into 1 Tbsp and 2 Tbsp portions; place the 2 Tbsp in small microwave bowl for melting
  • squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • peel, core and slice apples 1/4 inch thick & toss in a bowl with the lemon juice (you should have about 2-1/2 cups apples)
In a medium saucepan, cook applesauce over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to 2 cups, about 10 minutes (I would reduce to 1 to 1-1/2 cups).  Remove from heat and add apricot preserves and 1 Tbsp of the butter.  Cool, stirring occasionally.  Add vanilla extract.  Pour into chilled crust.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Arrange apple slices in concentric circles over applesauce.  Melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter; drizzle over apples.

Bake until apples are tender and lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes.

Apricot Glaze - Just before tart is done, prepare the glaze
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Force the preserves through a sieve.  In a small saucepan or skillet, bring preserves and the water to a boil; cool slightly, Stir in the vanilla.

When Tart comes out of oven, carefully brush the glaze over the hot apples.  Cool tart on a wire rack.  Serve warm or cool.  Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you wish.

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