French Apple Tart

My friend Mica made this for us one night when we were visiting & I had to have the recipe. It came from one of her many Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. I was entrigued to read on the recipe description that this “might just be her (Barfoot Contessa’s) all-time favorite dessert”. Wow, if it’s Ina Garten’s favorite it has to be good, hugh? 

I tried my hand at it a few weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting. It really is simple & delicious, yet has a healthy-ish feel to it. For some reason you don’t feel like you’ve blown your whole diet for having a slice. Especially if you ignore the large scoop of vanilla ice cream you plop on top. Ignorance is bliss indeed.
For the Pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tb sugar
12 Tb (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water
(For a really fast apple tart, you can use one sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted. Roll out to 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches & then proceed with the apples)
For the Apples:
4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tb (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam (if you can only find jam, heat first & then sieve before making glaze)
2 Tb Calvados, rum or water
For the pastry, place the flour, salt & sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter & pulse 10-12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube & pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board & knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 x 14 inches. Using a ruler & a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan & refrigerate while you prepare the apples. 
Peel the apples & cut them in half through the stem. Remove stems & cores with a sharp knife & a melon baller. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4 inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart & continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup sugar & dot with the butter. 
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned & the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados & brush the apples and pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool & serve warm or at room temperature. 

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