What Happens When A Nice American Apple Pie meets a French Tart?

 

The fields behind my home were glazed with frost as the sun came up this morning. Triggering memories of visiting apple orchards around Marshall, Michigan in the fall when I was a kid. Picking up an apple from the ground in the early morning. Covered with a light frost of frozen dew. That first bite. Cold, sweet, crisp, juicy and delicious. Part of the pleasure of going apple picking was knowing there would be pies to follow. My mother would make at least 2 apple pies so we all could have a healthy slice. My mom made making the pies seemed so effortless to me. She dove right in and before I knew it the pies were ready for the oven. Soon the house would be filled with the smell of cinnamon and apples. With 9 kids and a husband, mom had to be frugal  The ingredients she used were inexpensive and basic. Still, those apple pies would taste like heaven to me as I dove right into my slice. Cleaning the plate of every morsel of crust and filling. My Dad loved mom’s apple pies. It was his favorite dessert that she made. He would have 2 pieces.

Through the experiences of baking professionally I’ve come to learn about other methods and recipes to make an “Apple Pie.” Having experienced French Apple Tarts with its rich and buttery Pâte Brisée crust filled with a cooked apple compote spiced with vanilla bean and enriched with butter, topped with thin slices of fresh apple overlapping around the the tart, and then finished with apricot glaze for a beautiful shine.

My thought this morning was to combine the two ideas an American Apple Pie and a French Apple Tart. For the crust I’d rely on a rich, buttery, and tender Pâte Brisée recipe. Half of the apples would be a cooked apple filling thickened with cornstarch, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, and fresh lemon juice and slightly sweetened with a small amount of sugar and enriched with butter. The other apples would be sliced thinly and fan overlapping around the top of the tart and dusted with 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar to help with browning as it baked. Lastly, the tart/pie would be glazed after coming out of the oven with apricot preserves to set the apples slices and to add that finishing sweet shine.

Note: the recipe for the Pâte Brisée is in volume measure and grams since it is a dough recipe. The recipe for the filling is in measurement only. Feel free to adjust spices in the filling according to your taste.

Equipment:

  • Mixing Bowls
  • Measure Cups and Spoons/Digital Baking Scale
  • Fork
  • Plastic Scrap
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Sauce Pan 8-inch
  • Heat Resistant Rubber Spatula
  • French Tapered Rolling Pin
  • 9 inch Tart Pan with removable bottom
  • Parchment Paper
  • 1/2 Sheet Tray Baking Sheet

Pâte Brisée

  • Measure           Grams               Ingredients
  • 1-3/4 cups         250 g.                 All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp.                 6 g.                     Sea Salt (fine ground)
  • 1 tsp.                 6 g.                     Granulated Sugar
  • 2/3 cup              150 g.                 Butter (unsalted, cold)
  • 1 each               1 each                Egg (large)
  • 1 Tbsp.              15 g.                   Half & Half

Mixing the Pâte Brisée:

  1. In a mixing bowl combine the all purpose flour, sea salt, and sugar. Stir with a fork to combine.
  2. Dice the butter into 1/4-pieces and add to the dry ingredients in the bowl. Use the fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until pea size pieces form.
  3. With your hands rub the butter and dry ingredients together until the butter is completely incorporated. The mixture will start to form into lumps.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the egg and half & half and beat together. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl and stir with a fork to incorporate. Mix until the dough forms and comes away from the bowl.
  5. Turn the dough onto the work surface (no flour) and knead until completely incorporated.
  6. Cut off 2/3 of the dough and form into a 7-inch round disk and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate the disk for 1 hour before rolling.
  7. Wrap the other 1/3 of dough and freeze for another time.

Apple Filling and Topping:

  • Measure              Ingredients
  • 4 large                  Granny Smith Apples
  • 1/4 cup                 Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp.                 Sea Salt (fine ground)
  • 1/2 tsp.                 Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp.                 Ground Nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp.                 Cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp.                 Butter (unsalted)
  • 1 Tbsp.                 Lemon Zest
  • 1 Tbsp.                 Lemon Juice (fresh)

Making the Apple Filling:

  1. Peel and core the apples. Set the 4 best apple halves aside for the top of the tart.
  2. Dice the remaining apples into 1/4-inch pieces.
  3. In a saute pan add the diced apples, granulated sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch. Toss together to let the sugar mixture dissolve  Let the mixture rest for 10 to 15 minutes to pull the water from the apples. This firms the diced apple and provide liquid to thicken.
  4. Once the apples have rested and liquid has formed. Place the saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter and lemon zest. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stirring and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Remove the saute pan from the heat and add the lemon juice to the thickened apple mixture and stir to combine. Pour apple filling into a clean bowl and let cool before filling the crust.
  6. Slice the apples halves that were set aside into 1/8-inch slices.  Place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.  Depending on what kind of apples you use you might need to brush the top of the sliced apples with lemon juice to keep them from discoloring. Granny Smith apples don’t oxidize very quickly and can be sliced ahead of time.

Rolling the Pâte Brisée

  1. Remove the chilled Pate Brisee disk from the refrigerator. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough and place onto a floured work surface. Flour the top the disk. Using the rolling pin, firmly tap the chilled dough to make it pliable before rolling it out.
  2. Roll the dough into a 12-inch disk that is about an 1/8-inch thick.
  3. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin to make it easy to move it to the tart pan.
  4. Unroll the dough over the tart pan and center it.
  5. Lift the outside edges to ease the dough into the bottom edge of the pan. There will be some dough that is higher than the tart pan. Turn this dough inwards and press to form a rim of dough that is 1/4 higher than the tart pan edge. Finish the edge of the dough with a design if desired.
  6. Place the rolled tart dough into the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.

Assembling and Baking the Apple Tart:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes before baking
  2. Remove the tart dough from the freezer and dock (prick with a fork) to bottom of the tart dough.
  3. Place the cooled cooked apple filling into the prepared dough. Smooth the filling out evenly with a spatula.
  4. Top the filling with the reserved apple slices overlapping the slices like a deck of cards. Work from the outside edge to the center.
  5. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar over the apple slices.
  6. Place the prepared tart onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 50 to 60 minutes. The edge of the of crust and the apples should be a golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool before removing the outside ring of the tart pan.
  8. Brush the top with apricot glaze: 1/2 cup apricot preserves and 1/4 cup water brought to a boil. Strained and boil until thickened. You can always add more water if to thick.
  9. Let cool completely before cutting or serving.

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