Few things say “autumn” more than apples. Well, maybe pumpkins—but they’re not as much fun to pick or as easy to eat. A few weeks ago we went to Grim’s Orchard and Family Farms in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania.
It was wonderful to see my daughters having so much fun picking apples and walking the hills of the orchard on that crisp and windy autumn Sunday. And the fruits of our labor—literally—were very rewarding. We came home with two bags filled with a variety of apples: Fujis, Pink Ladies, EverCrisps and Jonagolds.
French Apple Tart (Tarte aux Pommes)
Crust (pâte sablée)
- 250g / 8.8 oz of plain wheat flour + some extra for dusting
- 200g / 7.1oz of cool butter, cut in cubes
- 100g / 3.5oz of confectioners’ sugar, sieved
- a pinch of salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 60g / 2.1oz of butter + some extra butter for greasing the tart mold
- 8 apples (about 1kg / 2.2 lbs)
- 1 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
- 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
- 80g / 2.8oz of quince jelly, heated up until melted
- Prepare the crust: Heap the flour on a clean work surface. Form a mold in the middle and add butter, sifted confectioners’ sugar and salt. Combine the ingredients by rubbing the butter with dry ingredients through your fingers, then add the egg yolks and keep working the dough by kneading it gently until it is soft, with a silky texture. Knead the dough by pushing it away from yourself 3 – 4 times with the palm of your hand. Form it into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before further processing.
- Grease a non-stick tart mold with a removable bottom (24cm / 9in in diameter). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then wrap it on the rolling pin and gently let it slide into the prepared mold. Press the dough against the wavy edge of the tart mold so it almost borders on the upper edge and fits tightly. Again refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Prepare the filling: Peel and halve the apples and remove the core. Cut each half into very thin slices. Take about 1/3 of the apple pieces (choose the smaller, not so “photogenic” pieces) and place them in a medium-size saucepan, add 50ml of cold water, the vanilla pod, sugar, and butter, and simmer at a low temperature until the apples are completely soft and create a creamy mousse. Remove from heat, discard the vanilla pod and if necessary use a stick blender to puree the remaining chunky pieces; let the mousse cool down. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 °C / 400°F.
- Pierce the crust with a fork 8 – 10 times. Pour the apple mousse into the prepared crust and arrange the apple slices, flat side down on the mousse in a spiral pattern: first the outer edge, then the inner circle in the opposite direction. Cut the remaining apple slices into smaller cubes and arrange the middle.
- Bake the tart for 35-40 minutes until the crust is crisp and the apples are lightly browned. Take out of the oven and let cool down for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, warm up the quince jelly in a small saucepan and brush it generously over the apple slices.
- The tart tastes best when served warm.