French Apple Tart
The good thing is that this apple dessert is not heavy and dense like an apple pie, which to me is better suited for the cooler months. This tart reminds me of the pastry I’d pick up at the neighborhood patisserie in Paris for a sweet breakfast or an afternoon snack.
The pastry for this tart is similar to a pie crust–flakey and buttery. The key is to use cold ingredients and keep the dough really cold before it goes into the oven. The pieces of butter in the dough will melt and create pockets of steam that make the pastry light and airy.
It is best to use firm, tart apples for this recipe. (Tart apples for a tart, get it? Heh.) I like Granny Smith or Golden Delicious, which hold their shape better in high temperatures. The apples are caramelized on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. They are glistened with a layer of apricot jelly at the end for that added sweetness and shine.
You can wrap this tart easily for a picnic or potluck. It also makes an elegant presentation served on a rustic wooden board. I made this for a few friends who come over for dinner last night and everyone seemed to like it. Top it with some whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make it extra special. Enjoy!
French Apple Tart
Adapted from “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics” by Ina Garten
For the pastry:
- All-purpose flour, 2 cups
- Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
- Granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon
- Cold unsalted butter, 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks), diced
- Ice water, 1/2 cup plus a few more teaspoons if needed
For the apples:
- Granny Smith apples, 4
- Granulated sugar, 1/2 cup
- Unsalted butter, 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick), small diced
- Apricot jelly, 1/2 cup
- Rum, 2 tablespoons
Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food professor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few sections to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. Pour 1/4 cup of water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. The dough crumbles should stick together easily when you pinch them. Add more water, one teaspoon at a time, if the dough feels dry. Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Gather the dough into a ball and shape into a disc, using the sides of the plastic wrap to help you. Don’t overwork the dough, or the butter will melt and it will turn out tough. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour. Can be made overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan (a sheet pan with a lip) with parchment paper.
Roll the dough into a rectangle slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches on a floured surface. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. I used a pair of scissors to trim the dough, and they worked pretty well. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stem and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. I used the larger pieces for the middle row and the smaller slices for the side rows. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown Rotate the pan once during baking. The melted butter and apple juice will leech out and burn on the pan, but the tart will be fine.
When the tart is done, heat the apricot jelly with the rum and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a spatula so it doesn’t stick to the parchment paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.