cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Little More Tart a Little Less Tatin

The traditional tarte tatin is the French equivalent to the classical pineapple upside down cake. Apple tarts can be found gracing the desert menus of nearly every restaurant and and cafe in the country. Typically it is served with either an ice cream or creme fraiche, but the mark of a truly divine tarte is when it is perfect sans embellishments. Made inversely in the pan, (similar to the pineapple upside down) a caramel sauce coats the bottom side of the pan, followed by apples, and then a thin pastry crust on top. My desire to create a tart on this uncharacteristically warm morning sprang first from being greeted by a clean kitchen (ha ha!) and second from my daily visit to my routine food blogs. Bea of La Tartine Gourmande indulged her readers with photos of a savory sweet apricot tart. The simplicity of a tart is astounding, yet the finished product demands respect and admiration, the quint essential physical representation of minimalistic beauty. Crust, a fruit or custard filling, and either a glaze or topping is all that is required in a tart. The crust was graciously borrowed from Bea, and the rest was of my own.This recipe, though not a tart tatin, is my French Apple Tart.

Crust is the crux of any pastry confection; a bad or chewy crust ruins the pallet for anything the filling has to offer. In tarts, a thin light and crispy crust is the bakers aim. Tart dough is traditionally a blend of flour, butter, sugar, and milk. Bea, however took the tart a step further, introducing variant flours and fats. This dough, though for a sweet tart, contains quinoa flour and olive oil, a little spice of savoriness that marries well the tangy apples and sweet caramel. My fruit basket hosted a bounty of pommes verts today, and as such they scored the leading role. (Yana this recipes is for the pair of us; unrivaled apple connoisseurs.) The tarte tatin is apples coated in a caramel sauce, this variation is the inverse. A thin caramel sauce is brushed over the raw pastry dough and then layered with thin apple slices. Atop the apples, what else could be paired but crushed walnuts. To seal the the filling, the remaining caramel sauce as well as a generous amount of honey is drizzled over the top and baked until bubbly. Perfection from little.

Tarts and tartlets are versatile to the extent of virtually any imaginable ingredient. The French prefer apples, while others pineapple, and even others fish or potatoes. There is no end to tart innovation, just the range of the bakers ability and creativity. Instead of ordering a tart at a restaurant make one yourself. It will impress to degrees that far exceed other confectionery genres. Tart pans are kitchen essentials, but do not let the want of one deter you, smooth muffin tins are just as able. Improvising in end produces a shinier gem.

A word of caution though, do not overwork the dough!

Bea's olive oil tart dough: (with small variations)
  • 1.25 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Mix dry ingredients together in electric mixer with dough paddle, add olive oil and mix until crumbly. Gradually add water until dough completely pulls away from walls in a ball. Let sit at room temperature for at least on hour. Roll out and line tart pan(s).

Tart filling:
  • 2 large apples (any, for this I used granny smith)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3tbsps butter
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup crushed almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey
In a small saucepan heat brown sugar and water, swirl around until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in butter until dissolved. Brush caramel on bottom and side of the fitted tart crust, reserve a little. Thinly slice apples and arrange on top of caramel. Sprinkle with walnuts, and then drizzle with remaining caramel and honey. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes depending on size and over variants. Cool completely before serving.

A bientรดt

1 comment:

Beatrice said...

Thank you for the clin d'oeil. Your tart looks delicious! And congrats for the blog. A good way for sure to have more traffic is to allow for more comments. I see you do not allow anonymous comments. Fair enough, but this is limiting. Perhaps you can set your pref to approve comments, this way you control spam still.

Good luck!
La Tartine Gourmande