Tarte aux pommes d'hier
I have never been to Normandy, but when I make this tarte, I feel like I'm there, and that’s the beauty of cooking, because you can actually travel anywhere. We like to sit around the pan of apples while they caramelize, as the aroma is more than beautiful. Time to time we breathe in the aroma in the other bowl of apples soaking in Calvados. We all inhale it and pretend we're in Normandy, somewhere in a kitchen where a real fire is still the only way to make food and rain is pouring down like it has never rained before.
300 g pastry flour
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1/3 tsp vanilla powder
pinch of sea salt
200 g cold butter, cut in pieces
1 tbsp lemon juice
50 ml cold milk or 1 medium egg
400 g peeled apples, cut into thin slices
30 ml Calvados
2 tbsp demerara sugar
400 g peeled and cut apples into approx. 1 cm pieces
30 g cold butter
30 g demerara sugar
pinch of sea salt
3 tbsp apricot jam (the more transparent, the better) or apple jelly
2 tbsp water
Make the pastry. Put the flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Grate the butter on a course grater into the flour. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. You can also prepare the dough in a food processor with the fine blade – add all the ingredients and process on medium speed until crumbly. Add milk/egg with lemon juice and mix gently until the dough is uniform – do not over-knead or the crust will be hard, not flaky. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the Calvados apples. Put them into a bowl, pour over the Calvados, sprinkle with sugar, and mix. Let them soak up all the goodness.
After that, make the puree. Place the apples in a pan with butter, salt, and sugar and simmer on medium heat until soft and caramelized (takes about 15 – 25 minutes). There may be times when you'll need to add some water if the apples are hard; they just continue to simmer until all the water has evaporated. Blend them into a puree.
Heat the oven to 210°. Butter a 25 cm tart form. Roll out the dough and place in the pan. Press the sides of the dough to the pan and cut off the excess dough. Prick with a fork, lay baking paper on top, and fill with baking beans. Bake for 12 minutes. Then take the pan out, remove the baking beans and paper, and bake for another 8 minutes. Take out of the oven.
Lower the heat to 190°. Spread the puree on the base. The easiest job is done. Now arrange the apples to your liking, packing them a bit more tightly that you think you should (they will shrink while baking). Bake for 40 minutes or until the apples are golden (I like to bake on one level below the middle).
To finish, place jam or jelly in a pan, add 2 tbsp of water, and heat until it is runny. Spread on the apples with a brush so that it shines all over. Serve lukewarm.
* I usually make double of this and use the other half making this Apple puree cake recipe few days later (or use in the porridge or with pancakes). You can keep the puree in sealed box for a week.
Recipe and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s