Tarte aux pommes
Recipe by Meryl Batlle
Shot by Georgia Gold
Prep Time: minutes
Cook Time: 15/20 minutes for the compote
Make-Ahead: The compote keeps in the fridge for at least a week, so you can make it days ahead.
The dough can be made and stored refrigerated up o 3 days ahead.
Alongside the classic homemade French crêpes, a tarte aux pommes was regular at home while growing up, and I started making my own when I left home to study. I enjoy finding the best flour, the creamiest butter and the freshest eggs... I always make sure that I have the ingredients in my pantry,
just in case I need to bake a last minute birthday sweet or satisfy a spontaneous craving.
For this tart, you can prepare the components ahead of time to save on the "day of prep".
The crust on this tart is meant to meld with the compote, so it’s not pre-baked. If I have access to a electric mixer, I still only use it for the first part of the dough making process and then continue by hand when adding the flour. That doesn't mean that you can't use the machine for the whole process or do it entirely by hand, whatever you feel more comfortable with. Remember not to overwork the pastry as it will become tough and you will lose the delicate nature of the sablé. I often make double the amount of dough so I can freeze half as a backup. If you do, remove it from the freezer and leave in the fridge overnight to defrost.
For the compote, Granny smith is usually my go-to baking apple. And here's where “my generation’s contribution” to the family recipe shows up by adding ground cardamom to it. I might have to go back home to ask for approval...
For the topping, there are several good apples that hold up under heat and balance that perfect sweet-tart flavor, like a Braeburn, Jonagold or Honey Crisp. If you´re not a fan of the crispy texture you can peel the apples before baking. My Gala apples looked so pretty, I decided to leave the skin on this time.
Shortcrust pastry (pâte sablée)
220g butter, cubed and softened
100g pure icing sugar, sifted
2 egg yolks
260 plain flour, to sift during process
A pinch of salt
Extra butter, for greasing the mold
Extra flour, for dusting
2 apples, Granny Smith. Peeled if desired, cored and cut in chunks
1 tbsp raw cane sugar
1/2 lemon, freshly juiced
1/2 vanilla pod, split and scrapped
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
4/5 Gala apples
2 tbsp raw cane sugar, for finishing the tarte
25g butter, diced in small pieces
For the compote:
The compote keeps in the fridge for at least a week, so you can make it days ahead.
I usually make double the amount and use some to have for breakfast with muesli.
Tip: You can stick the scraped-out pod in a jar of sugar to make vanilla-scented sugar.
- Place the chopped apples, water, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy saucepan and stir with a wooden spatula over medium-high heat until the mixture is bubbling. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring often, until the apples have cooked down but still have some texture, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, split the vanilla pod down its length using the paring knife. Scrape out the seeds: working with one half at a time, hold down the tip of the bean against the cutting board. Use the dull side of your paring knife — not the sharp side — and scrape the vanilla beans from the pod.
- Add the vanilla beans and cardamom to the compote mixture. Cover and simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool, keep refrigerated up to a week.
For the pastry:
The pastry can be made and stored refrigerated up to 3 days ahead.
- Make the tart dough by mixing the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low-to-medium speed, until combined, for a couple minute No need to whip it until pale and fluffy at this stage - beating the pastry butter for too long will add a lot of air to the dough and this will make the pastry fragile when baked.
- Continue beating as you add the egg yolks one at the time, ensuring each yolk is well combined before adding the next. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the inside of the bowl with a spatula to grab any butter that has made its way up the walls of the bowl and give it a last mix.
- Now, you have two options here: continue using the stand mixer or roll up your sleevesand finish the dough by hand.
- By hand: Remove the bowl from the machine and sift the flour in, add a pinch of salt. Start mixing with one hand until combined and turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Have some extra flour nearby to dust if needed. Over-working further develops gluten, which will cause your crust to shrink when baked.
- By machine: Keeping your mixer on low speed, sift in the flour and salt until the dough comes together. Add a sprinkle of water if the dough feels too dry.
- Press the dough into a thick disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 2 hour to firm up the butter and allow the dough to hydrate, transforming it into malleable dough. (Or freeze instead; it will keep for up to a month.)
To assemble, on the day:
- Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and unwrap. Lightly grease a 23cm removable bottom tart pan and lay the dough over the center of the pan. Using the heel of your hand and your fingers, press the dough across the bottom and up the sides of the pan, getting it as even as possible. Leave an extra 0,5cm of dough hanging over the rim of the pan to allow for shrinkage, and chill the tart in the fridge again while you prepare the apple slices.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan forced). While that´s heating up, quarter your apples and core them before cutting to 2/3mm-thick slices. They'll cook quicker but also will remain jucy. Place them in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice to avoid oxidition. When an apple is cut, enzymes (and iron in the apple) chemically react with oxygen. Browning isn’t just unappealing, it also alters the apple’s taste.
- Remove the pan from the fridge and smooth out the compote to cover the tart bottom.
- It's time to build the tart: starting from the outside, arrange the apple slices over the base and overlap them tightly while rotating the tin so that only about 1cm of the previous slice is visible. Make a complete circle and repeat this until the entire tart is covered. Take care to stand the apples up at a slight angle with the cut edges down and the round part pointing up.
- Sprinkle the sugar over the tart, between the apple slices rather than on top to avoid burning the sugar. Dot the diced butter over the apples and bake the tart for 40 to 45 minutes or until the apples begin to brown just slightly on the edges and the crust is a deep golden brown. Check the tart periodically to make sure the shell is not over-browning at the edges (cover the edges with foil if necessary). The tart should not leak but if you are worried it will, place the pan on parchment or a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and cool the tart on a rack before removing from the pan.
Serving: Serve the tart warm or at room temperature. Normally tarts like this are served on their own but a bit of whipped crême fraîche never hurts. I add a tiny bit of icing sugar to the crême fraîche, maybe a touch of vanilla bean too and quickly whip it by hand just before serving.
Storage: The tart can be kept for up to 2/3 days, but I'd be surprise if there´s anything left by then!