I have been making this tart for over 25 years and it is always wonderful. Unfortunately, this is one of those hand-written recipes that I have and where it never occurred to me to write down its origins. I’m certain that I have made some changes over the years since I have scratched out amounts and made additions in the margins. It’s not particularly difficult to make and it gives a lovely presentation. It does not replace my mother’s apple pie recipe; however, I have never been able to duplicate that to my satisfaction. I periodically try, but there is something about the apples I have available – or perhaps it is simply that reality cannot live up to my memories and I have never tasted another apple pie that compares.
The French Apple Tart is lighter than an American apple pie and is delicious in its own right. I traditionally made this with a rich tart pastry dough that had egg and butter in it, but nowadays I make it with a basic Crisco crust, which is vegan. If you have no issue with eggs or butter, go for the richer crust. Otherwise, it will still be delicious with a vegan crust.
Tarte Aux Pommes
Yield: One 9-inch tart
Pastry for one 9-inch tart
5 large, unblemished Golden Delicious or similar baking apple like a Jonagold (do NOT use a Granny Smith. You want a sweeter, more tender apple.)
2 Tablespoons butter or vegan buttery sticks
Zest of 1 large lemon
Generous 1/4 cup of granulated or raw sugar plus about 2 Tablespoons of sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Generous 1 Tablespoon of Calvados, Rum or Apple Jack
1/4 cup of apricot or apple jelly, melted
- Roll out your pastry dough into a 9-inch fluted flan pan with a removable bottom and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
- Core and peel 2 of the apples and cut them into thin slices. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch skillet and add the apple slices. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and 1/4 cup of sugar. Cook, gently tossing for about 10 minutes or until the apples are tender but not mushy. Turn off the heat and add the Calvados, Rum or Apple Jack.
- Mash the apples lightly and chill. (Use a potato masher or fork.) This can be made up to one day ahead.
- When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove the pastry-lined pan from the fridge and fill it with the mashed apple mixture, spreading it thinly and evenly.
- Core, peel and thinly slice the remaining apples and lay them over the mashed apple mixture in concentric circles to form an attractive pattern. Slightly overlap the apples since there will be some shrinkage when it bakes.
- Sprinkle generously with the sugar cinnamon mixture and dot with the remaining butter. Place the tart on a baking sheet to catch any leaks, although generally there aren’t any.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the apples are tender and the pastry is browned. The apples will continue to cook even when this is removed from the oven, so do not over-bake. You will learn to smell when pastries are done, but also use the pastry itself as your guide.
- Remove the tart to a cooling rack and when cooled so that the apples have sunk into place, melt your jelly. Using a pastry brush, carefully brush each apple slice so that it shines like a jewel. Be careful to not disturb the pattern. Allow to cool completely before serving.