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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Apple tart - simple yet so delish

We were going to S' mom for dinner and I was thinking about bringing some desserts, plus I wanted to try some new recipes.

Consulting my favorite cookbook, Pastry: Savoury and Sweet by Michel Roux, I chose to make Apple Tart, for two reasons. First, it's so pretty looking, and second,the recipe contains a lots of apples. Let's just say there is about one small apple in each serving. Remember, one apple a day will keep the doctor away. I hope that this saying will count for Apple Tart as well:P 

The Pastry: Savoury and Sweet cookbook is the book that I use often. I like Mr Roux's techniques that he prepares most, if not all, of pastries by hand. It's very rare to find any recipes suggesting working with butter-rich dough by hands, instead of using food processor. Personally, I like working with my hands as I can feel the texture of the dough. It's the joy of cooking and it makes me feel like I'm hand-crafting something. His instructions and recipes are also easy to follow.

This apple tart might not be your typical apple tart. It contains considerably small amount of sugar but a lots of apples. There are no spices, i.e. cinnamon or nutmeg in it and no sugar in apple compote.  There is no custard either, just simply apple compote with beautiful pastry. Simple, yest so delish. S and his family loved this tart. They all gave rave reviews for it.

Here is the recipe for Apple Tart, form Michel Roux's Pastry: Savoury and Sweet cookbook.

Tart pie dough
(adapted from Michel Roux's Pastry: Savoury and Sweet)

175g all-purpose flour (plain flour)
100g butter, cut into small pieces and slightly softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold water

Put the flour on the counter and make a well. Put the butter, egg, sugar and salt in the middle of the flour. With your fingertips, mix the ingredients in the well (cream butter and egg with sugar & salt). 
"You can also mix the ingredients in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs." 

Start to draw flour into the center and work the dough with your fingertips to a grainy texture. Add the cold water and mix it in until the dough begins to hold together.

Using the palm of your hand, push the dough away from you 4-5 times until it is smooth. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (at least 20 mins).

This dough can sit in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to three months.

Apple tart recipe
make one 25-cm tart

I chose to use the tart pie dough for this tart. If you prefer richer pastry, you can also use pate brisee (shortcrust pastry) instead of tart pie dough.

350g tart pie dough (all of the above)
6 large dessert apples (about 1 kg) (I used Granny Smith in this recipe)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g butter
50 ml water

Surup glaze
80g caster sugar (fine sugar)
40ml water

Roll the dough out to a circle, 3mm thick, and use the pastry to line 25-cm loose-bottom tart pan. Chill the pastry for at least 20 mins.

Note: I put the pastry in the freezer for 10-15 mins, and then moved it to the fridge for the next 15 mins. This is the first time I tried freezer method and my tart didn't shrink after it was bake (my tart usually shrinks slightly from the edge).
Preheat the oven to 200c/220c (convection/conventional oven). Peel, core and halve the apples. Place cut-side down on a board and cut into 2-mm thick slices. Put half of the apples into a pan. Keep the other half pack together (to stop them from discolouring).

Granny smith apples work quite well with this tart

Melon baller is quite handy when it comes to coring the apples

Slice the apples into 2-mm slices

Add 50 ml water, vanilla extract, and butter to the apples (about 2/3 of prepared apples) in the pan and cook until tender. Take off the heat, use a fork or masher to work the apple into a compote consistency. Leave it to cool.

For the glaze, in a small pan, dissolve the sugar in 40 ml water. Brink to a boil and simmering for 4-5 mins to make syrup. Leave it to cool.

Take the pastry pan out of the fridge and prick the base of the pastry shell lightly. Spread the cold apple compote into the tart shell.

Place pieces of apples (that been set aside) on top the compote, starting from the outer edge around the tart. The apple slices will be overwrapping slightly. Then, arrange another circle inside, with the slices facing another way. Fill the center with a little apple slices.

Bake for about 35 mins until the pastry and apple are a light golden color. Let cool for at least 20 mins before remove the tart pan. Brush the top with the glaze, place the tart on a wire rack and leave until just cool.

Leave to cool on rack

I called this a baker's quality control. I needed a piece to make sure that they were good enough for others:)

Ready to go!