It is the season for all things apples! I love picking my own fruits in the summer and with many apple orchards in Maine I am able to continue my love of PYO well into the fall season. Over the years, I have discovered heirloom apples like Ruby Topaz, Snow Sweet, Florina, and Golden Russet. I love learning about new apple varieties and the flavors can be SO different from your typical every day apples. There are definitely more to apples than Granny Smiths and Macintosh! Of course your Macs are great, especially when they are nice and tart but if you have an orchard near you that grows something different, try it! You may find your new favorite. My most visited orchards in Maine, are Orchard Ridge, Dole’s Orchard, and Thompson’s Orchard. These are also my favorites because they all have great market shops with fresh donuts, bread, cider and sometimes eggs. Honestly, did you even GO apple picking if you didn’t eat a cider donut?
I love to make apple crisp with my fresh picked apples and I definitely have made a couple already this autumn season, but I also wanted to try something different. So I dug out the ol’ Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and found her apple tart recipe. According to Julia –
“The classic French apple tart consists of a thick, well-flavored applesauce spread in a partially cooked pastry shell. Over it thinly sliced apples are placed in an overlapping design of circles. After baking, it is coated with apricot glaze.”
Sounds easy right? Nothing in this cookbook is ever easy and what I thought would take me 30 minutes from peeling to baking, took more like an hour and a half. The finished product was quite tasty though and in the end worth it. My big take away was that I need thinner apple slices than my Johhny Apple Peeler makes, so next time I’ll use the mandolin.
Tarte Aux Pommes
Adapted from Mastering The Art of French Cooking
Makes 1 10-inch tart or 4 mini tarts (about 4 inches)
Partially-cooked 10-inch tart shell (store bought or your own favorite )
4 lbs. apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup apricot preserves, forced through a sieve
1/4 cup Calvados, rum or cognac; or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter
(optional) 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, grated rind of 1 lemon or orange
1/2 cup apricot glaze (see below)
1/2 cup apricot preserves, forced through a sieve
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Mix the preserves and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until glaze is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Apply while still warm or reheat before using.
1.) Quarter, core, and peel the apples. Slice 3 cups worth into 1/8-inch lengthwise slices. Toss sliced apples in a bowl with lemon juice and sugar. Set aside.
2.) Cut the rest of the apples into slices (about 8 cups). Place in a large heavy saucepan and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for about 20 minutes until apples are tender. Beat in apricot preserves, alcohol (or vanilla), sugar, butter, and cinnamon and zest (if using). Turn up heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until nice and thick.
3.) Preheat oven to 375F. Spread the applesauce in the partially-baked pastry shell. Arrange sliced apples in an overlapping layer or concentric circles.
4.) When oven has preheated, bake the tart in the upper third of the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the apples are tender. Slide tart onto a cooling rack and paint a light layer of apricot glaze over the top. Serve warm or cold. It’s amazing with some creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream!