This week's Baking with Julia assignment is French Apple Tart from pp379-381, a recipe by Leslie Mackie of Macrina Bakery. I am honoured to be the host of this challenge, so this week, I have set out the recipe to make this tart below.
This tart looks very pretty, and it tastes fabulous while still just warm. The pastry, which contains shortening, is crisp and light, allowing the apple filling to star.
However, if you would like to make this tart, be warned - unless you want to go to bed in the wee small hours, you can't whip it up straight after work unless you have done some serious prep work first. I made this on a Sunday, and from go to woe, it took all morning on and off. The dough has to chill before it can be rolled out, then it has to chill again in the pan. You have to peel, core and slice a lot of apples, and bake some of those apples for the filling. I used a food processor to make the crust, and although you don't have to, it certainly saves some time.
This tart was definitely worth the effort, as the end product was absolutely delicious - the mashed apple filling was almost custard-like in nature, it being so creamy, and the sliced apples on top give the tart its beauty and "wow" factor.
Without further ado, here is the recipe:
Flaky pie dough (p31)
(I have converted the original recipe into metric and quartered the amounts, as required for the tart. I have also stated the recipe for a food processor only.)
154g pastry flour or all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
44g cold unsalted butter
75g solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water
Place the dry ingredients in the food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse just to mix. Take the top off, scatter the chilled cubed butter and shortening over the flour, cover, and pulse again, working only until the fats are cut in and the mixture resembles slightly moist cornmeal. Add a little of the liquid and pulse a few times, then add more liquid and pulse again. Continue until the mixture has curds and clumps and sticks together when pressed between your fingers.
Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for as long as 5 days.
When the dough has chilled, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface (or between two sheets of baking paper, as I did) into a circle about 1/8 inch thick and fit it into a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Let the crust chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
For assistance on making your tart shell look good, refer to the Baking with Julia video.
To blind bake the tart shell, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius/gas mark 6. Fit a piece of baking paper or foil into the tart shell and fill with pie weights, rice, or dried beans, and bake the tart for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Transfer the crust to a rack to cool while you make the filling. (I removed the rice at 20 minutes and let it bake for another 5 minutes without the weights so that the inside of the tart shell could brown up; cf the recipe which states that the weights should stay in even while the tart is cooling.)
Reduce your oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius/gas mark 5.
6 Granny smith apples
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 teaspoons (approximately) fresh lemon juice
Peel and core the apples, obtaining 10-12 slices from each apple. ( I cheated and used my corer-slicer tool, which gives 8 slices per apple.) Place the apples in a bowl and toss with the sugar, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, and bread crumbs. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Spread the apples on a jelly-roll pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the apples give up their juices, start to form a sauce, and are soft enough to mash.
Scrape the apples into a bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork. Taste and add more lemon juice if you think it needs it, then cool the filling for 15 minutes.
Spoon the filling into the tart shells, ensuring that the filling remains below the rim of the tart shell.
2-3 granny smith apples
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Peel and thinly slice the apples. Toss the apples with the tablespoon of lemon juice to keep them from browning. Arrange the apples in a circular pattern starting from the outside, slightly overlapping the slices.
Work around the pie until the filling is completely covered. Brush the apple slices with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake the tart for 25-30 minutes or until the top is glazed and the apple slices are edged in black. (My oven was never going to darken the tart on top, so I just baked the tart until the nominated cooking time was over.)
Serve the tart dusted with powdered sugar (icing sugar) if desired (I didn't bother).
Leslie says that this tart is best served warm from the oven. Most of my tart is currently chilling in the fridge, so the proof of the pudding will be revealed tomorrow.
To see what the other Baking with Julia participants thought, visit the LYL section of the Baking with Julia website.