This has been a year of apples and walnuts for us. The trees have given us so much. I am grateful to the trees and their Creator to finally be here after so many years of being away during the harvest and that the abundance was more than we were prepared to handle. I cannot express what a pleasure it was to gather the apples. The weather was cool and gray. Not much noise around except some cows and birds. I gathered what I could. Didn’t try to climb too high in the trees. Ate a few along the way and eventually enjoyed eating many imperfect, perfectly delicious apples. This blog and a couple of others to follow are all about the apples.
The pie you’ll see baked is a classic in French bistrot cuisine. This one’s a gift to our neighbors. They invited us to bring all of our apples to their farm and throw them in an apple press for making apple juice and cider. We came home with 20 liters of apple juice. That deserves a blog post all its own. Now, what about that “Tarte tatin“, that Upside-down Apple Pie?
Pâte brisé / Crust
- 200 g All Purpose flour
- 100 g butter (cold)
- 50-65 g cold water
- a pinch of salt
- 8-10 apples
- 150 g butter
- 150 g sugar ( I used some molasses I had handy because “it was there”. )
- Preparing the crust. You could do this part in a matter of seconds with a food processor. I cut the butter into the flour the old fashioned way – because I had to. If you too do this by hand, just try to find a way to keep your hands off of the butter as much as possible. I used a pastry cutter, but you may want to use a fork or other instrument. Usually described as becoming sandy in texture when properly done, don’t worry if some lumps are still in the mix. This can create great flaky bursts of buttery flavor. Next pour in the beaten egg and some of the water. Begin to mix with a spoon, spatula or your hands (but work quickly). Add water as needed to get the mixture to come together. Be careful not to add too much water as that can make a crust less flaky and tender. Place your pastry in the fridge while you go to work on the apples.
2. Preparing the apples. Simply peel and cut them in half from top to bottom. Then core them. Don’t worry about them turning brown since they will be taking a long, slow bath in bubbling buttery caramel.
3. Caramelizing the apples. Place your tart pan on the stovetop for this first stage of assembly and cooking. Best to melt the butter first, then add the sugar. Let the fire do most of the work, stirring just enough to help things move along evenly. Cook until the mixture becomes a golden amber color, then begin loading up the apples. Stand the apples up on end and fit them in as tightly as possible being careful not to break them. They will shrink as they cook and loose water. You want the end product to still be a relatively tight structure. Cover the apples with aluminium foil and let them cook on the stovetop slowly. You want them to soften but not loose their structure and give the caramel time to thicken.
4. Putting it together, baking and unmolding. While the apples are cooking on the stovetop, take your pastry from the fridge and roll it out. Remove the caramelized apples from the stovetop and, while still hot, replace the foil with the pastry. You will need to tuck the edges of the pastry down into the tart pan – NOT creating a decorative edge over the pan. Remember, the top will become the bottom. Place the tart, pastry side up, into the oven at 350*F / 180*C for 20-25 minutes. When the crust is golden, remove from the oven, let cool only slightly for 5 minutes. Then, flip onto a plate that can hold the caramel that will ooze from below. Finally, enjoy warm or at room temperature with or without whipped cream or ice cream. For me, I just want a piece of that pie.
Have a sweet and wonderful day. / Que vous ayez une très belle journée délicieuse.