French Apple Tart

I am Asian, so fruits to me are mangoes, rambutans, mangosteen, soursops or longans. We do have apples, pears or plums, but they’re considered as “fancy” fruits. The kinds that you’ll find decorating buffet tables but no one will really eat them. Well, at least I won’t.

Thus, we don’t really buy them. Until, one day I had a big lunch (about 40 people coming) and some of them brought along with them a case of granny smith, pears and oranges (the type you can not peel). Thank God some of the guests took the oranges, still I was left with plenty of pears and apples.

What to do…. What to do….

Then I remembered this excellent recipe of pie crust from David Lebovitz then combined it with french apple tart recipe from Joy of Baking, and it turned out really okay (especially when it was still warm with a scoop or two of home made ice cream).

For the crust (I use this recipe for any kind of sweet pie)

  • Preheat oven 210 C
  • 90 g (3 ounces) salted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used corn)
  • 150 g flour
  • In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water and sugar.
  • Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.
  • When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23 cm) tart mold and spread it a bit with a spatula.
  • Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold.
  • Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then blind bake* the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes (210 C), or until the dough is golden brown.

For bottom filling (can be prepared ahead, store it well in the fridge) I use applesauce (you can always buy store bought applesauce). As for me, as the whole purpose of making this pie is to deplete my apple stock, I am making mine from scratch.

  • Peel, core, and slice three apples.
  • In a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and stir in between 2 – 4 tablespoons of sugar, a tablespoon of limejuice, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Add the apples and saute over moderate heat, stirring occasionally for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the apples are soft.
  • Gently mash the apples with the back of a spatula or spoon and stir the mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.

For the top layer (can also be prepared ahead of time)

  • Peel, core, and cut the apples into slices 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat and stir in 2 – 4 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Add the apples and saute until they begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Set the cooked apples aside.

Now, it’s time to assemble everything. I normally make the applesauce and apple topping a day before. Then I bake my piecrust on the day that I want to make the pie.

  • Spoon the applesauce mixture into the cooled pre-baked tart shell.
  • Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles over the applesauce, and brush with 1 – 2 tablespoons melted butter.
  • Bake the tart on a baking sheet in a preheated 175 degree C oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until the apples are nicely browned and soft.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle the tart with confectioners’ sugar, cover the edges of tart with foil, and broil it under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat until the edges of the apples are golden brown and crisp.

*Blind bake: Cover the pie crust with parchment paper (grease proof paper), then put 1 cup of rice (or any kind of dried beans) on top of the paper. Rice will serve as a weight to prevent the bottom part of the crust from cracking.  You can always re-use the rice for your future blind baking.

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