Saturday, July 6, 2013

Apple Tart


I couldn't pass up the incredible sales on apples that they had at my neighbourhood grocery store. The result? I ended up with a bunch of apples that I needed to use. I had this recipe for an apple tart from year's back that I had stashed away. I decided to put it to use. I made an apple tart that was not only tasty, but oh-so pretty!! it looks like a delicate rose. The crust is flour, butter, salt and sugar based. There's an apple compote filling that holds the "petals" in place. The petals are thinly sliced apple wedges sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and lightly glazed with warm apricot preserves. Now if that does not get your taste-buds going, you might need to check your pulse. LOL! Here's how to make it...

SERVING SIZE: Feeds 8 people sufficiently (1 slice per person).

-A 9-inch tart pan with a loose bottom.
-Rolling pin.
-Food processor (to mix your dough).
-Dough cutter (if you decide to mix the dough manually).
-Mixing bowl (if you decide to mix the dough manually).
-Medium sized pan (to cook compote).
-Sharp knife.
-Cutting board.
-Mandolin slicer (helps you achieve very thin slices). If you don't have one, use a very sharp knife.
-Potato masher or fork (to mash the cooked apples). 

-Parchement paper.

-Cling/plastic foil.

-Pie weights OR 300g of uncooked beans eg. Kidney beans.                                                                                                                                    



-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.

-1 teaspoon salt (I used Kosher salt).

-3 tablespoons granulated sugar.

-2 sticks of unsalted butter, cubed and refrigerated (if you're using salted butter, skip the salt)

-1/2 cup of ice-cold water.


                           INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING THE CRUST:

-In the cup of a food processor, add the flour, sugar and salt; pulse to mix the ingredients well.
-Add the cubed cold pieces of butter to the flour/salt mixture. Pulse the processor until coarse crumbs the size of peas form.
-Through the feed-tube of the processor, slowly add in the ice-cold water as you continue pulsing just until the dough begins to form a ball. Stop the food processor.                                                        

**If you are making the crust manually, add your flour, salt and sugar into the mixing bowl and stir well. Use your dough cutter (like the one pictured below) OR a fork to cut the cubed butter into the flour. Do not use your bare hands at this point or it will melt your butter!   


With this method too, the dough should form coarse crumbs the size of peas. Slowly add the water and mix with a wooden spoon just until the dough forms a ball.
Now continue with the rest of the steps below (using cling foil and refrigerating).**

-On a cling foil that's been laid on your work surface and lightly sprinkled with flour, dump the dough and work it with your hands into a ball.                                                          

-Cover the ball of dough with the cling foil and flatten it into a disc as you cover it.                                                        

-Place the disc of dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes as you work on the compote for the tart.

-3 apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1-inch cubes (I used 2 granny smith and 1 golden delicious apples for the compote).
-1 cup frozen 100% apple juice concentrate.
-3 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional).
-1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder.
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
-1/4 teaspoon salt (to balance the flavors).                                                  


-Bring your pan to medium heat.
-To the pan, add the apple juice, apples, sugar (if using),salt, cardamom and cinnamon. Cook until the apples are fork-tender (about 10-15 minutes).  


-Drain most of the syrup that forms in the pan from the apples (leave very little).


-Using the back of a fork or a potato masher, mash the cooked apples into a compote. it does not have to be silky smooth, a few chunks are OK. The compote should be thick enough to stand a spoon/spatula in.
-Set aside to cool.                                                   


-Remove your dough from the fridge and unwrap from the cling foil.
-On a lightly floured surface, and with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the disc of dough (from the center out), to a 12-inches in diameter and 1/4 of an inch in thickness (as shown in the video).
-Using your rolling pin, transfer the dough into the tart pan (as shown in the video) and make sure that it's centered as much as possible.
-Use your hand to smooth the dough in the tart pan (especially along the edges).
-Using your rolling pin, cut off any excess dough/overhang (as shown in the video).
-Using a fork, dock the dough in the tart pan (poke holes all over the base and sides). This will help prevent the formation of bubbles in the crust as you blind-bake it.                                                        


-Cut off a piece of parchment paper slightly larger than the tart pan, and place it in the center of the uncooked crust.
-Gently pour some uncooked beans, lentils or pie weights over the parchment paper (as shown in the video), and spread them into an even layer over the parchment paper. These can be re-used for blind-baking pie crusts. They keep for  a LOOONG time! Just don't cook them after you've used them in this way :)

-After blind baking the crust with the parchment paper and beans/pie weights for 10 minutes, lift the parchment paper (with the beans in it), and remove it from the pie crust. Set them aside so the beans cool, ready for use next time. Return the pie crust back to the oven and let it cook for 5 minutes more (just until the crust is golden brown). Remove the crust from the oven and set aside to cool for about 20 minutes (do not remove it from the tart pan).                                                       


-4 apples that are not tart (I used gala apples).
-1/4 cup granulated sugar.
-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon.
-Juice of 2 lemons.
-2 tablespoons apricot preserves (for brushing the tart to give it some shine).                                                       



-Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, scoop the cooled down apple compote and spoon it into the cooled down pie crust. Smooth the compote using the back of a spoon or spatula into an even layer. Set aside.

***Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit before proceeding to the next step***

-This is the time to peel the apples that will form the "petals" of your apple tartYou will need 4 apples for this step (I used gala apples for their sweetness). Peel the apples one at a time, core them (remove the seeds as shown in the video), and use a mandolin slicer to slice them into really thin slices.
-Put the slices in a large mixing bowl and add the juice of two lemons to the apple slices to keep them from browning/oxidizing. Gently toss the slices in the bowl to coat them with the lemon juice (be very gentle or the slices will break).

-Now using the longer apple slices, "implant" them into the apple compote in a scallop fashion as demonstrated in the video. The apple compote will act like the "cement" that holds the apple slices in place. 

-Keep doing this as you work your way towards the center of the tart. Use the shorter petals for the center of the tart. Continue adding the slices until the surface of the tart is covered and resembles a rose.                                                    

-Once you're done assembling your tart, combine 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons of cinnamon powder and mix well.
-Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar up over the tart.

-Bake the tart at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature in the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an additional 15-20 minutes. 

-Place the apricot preserves in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds to melt it.                                                           

-Using a pastry brush, gently brush the "petals" of your tart with the molten apricot preserves to give it a nice gloss. Let the tart cool for 30 minutes or until the tart pan is cool enough to handle with bare hands.


-To unmould your tart from tart pan, place your hand under the center of the bottom of the tart pan. The ring around the pan will slip onto your arm (as shown on video).                                                         

-You can leave the unmoulded tart on the bottom of the pan, or you can wait until the tart cools down further (another 20 minutes), and gently pry it away from the bottom of the tart pan using a spatula.

Your tart is now ready to serve. I served mine up with a scoop of some French Vanilla ice-cream. If this tart does not make you look like a culinary god/ess to those you serve it to... I don't know what ever will! Enjoy!