Christophe’s Apple Tart

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After watching Stephanie Jaworski of Joy of Baking on YouTube bake a French apple tart, I noted her recipe and Christophe’s were very similar. These French apple tarts start with a buttery pâte brisée, then a layer of apple sauce, and finishing with a pretty arrangement of apples on top. I picked up some tips from Stephanie: brushing the crust and the apples with apricot glaze, and cooking down the apples will make them easier to arrange on top of the apple sauce. I decided it was worth it to revisit Christophe’s tarte aux pommes. I liked that recipe because it is not overly sweet and even with the extra steps from Joy of Baking added in, this tart is still so simple to make. It looks like you spent hours on it, but with a few simple tricks, you can make it look so professional!

Christophe’s Tarte aux Pommes
Makes 1 x 7-inch tart

For the Pâte Brisée:
200g all purpose flour (Type 55)
100g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cold water

Apple sauce
2 small apples, peeled, cored, chopped (recommend: Granny Smith or Gala)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla or a dash of cinnamon, optional

Tart
3 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon apricot jelly
1/2 tablespoon rum

Preheat the oven 400˚F/ 200˚C.

Prepare the pâte brisée. Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter in small pieces. Mix in cold water, a tablespoon at a time, or just enough to make a ball, and let rest about 30 minutes in refrigerator wrapped in plastic to firm up the dough. Heat the apricot jelly in a small pot until just warm. Remove from heat. Stir in rum. Set aside.

Make the apple sauce. In a small saucepan put 2 apples cut up into small pieces with the sugar, 4 tablespoons water, cinnamon or vanilla (if using), and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes on low heat (8 minutes in an oven-proof casserole in the microwave), crushing the apples as they cook to make a thick applesauce. Set aside to cool. Makes about 1/2 cup apple sauce.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut up the remaining 3 apples into thin slices. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and a dash of cinnamon, stirring to blend. Add the apples to the pan and cook until the apples are just wilted. Drain in a colander. Set apples aside to cool.

Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator and roll it out onto a lightly floured board into a 1/2 inch thick disk 8 inches in diameter. Roll up on the rolling pin. Place dough circle in the tart pan, rolling it out and pressing the dough into the bottom and sides. Repair any tears with extra dough pieces. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork.

Line the pastry shell with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights. Blind-bake the pastry shell 10 minutes at 200˚C. Reduce heat to 175˚C. Remove the parchment and pie weights and return to the oven and bake the pastry shell 5-10 minutes or until the bottom is light golden. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Brush the bottom with apricot mixture. Reserve any leftover apricot mixture.

Spread the cooled apple sauce over the base of the tart. Arrange the apple slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles on top of the apple sauce. If the rim of the crust is browned, cover it with foil to prevent it from over-browning. Bake 30 minutes or until the apples are slightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven. Remove the foil collar, if using. Brush the apples with the remaining apricot mixture to glaze them.

Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

Fresh jujube cake

 

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Our back-door neighbors gifted us a bag of jujubes last week. A jujube or Chinese apple (putsa in Thai) is a small green oval-shaped fruit. Inside, the flesh is white, lightly sweet, and crisp surrounding a small brown pit. I decided to bake them into a cake by adapting a recipe from Bon Appétit for German apple cake. I had made a German apple cake last week. I liked that recipe; it was easy and though it required time to prep (peeling and cutting apples) it was definitely delicious, and I was sure I could use jujubes instead of apples the second go-round. There were 13 jujubes in the bag and I only needed 6 for the cake. I cut and peeled them all up anyway. Now, to cut a jujube open takes some effort.  I made a slice vertically all the way around the fruit, gave the two halves a firm twist (or two), and pulled them apart. Then I gouged out the pit and peeled the two halves. I tossed the jujube halves in a sugar-spice mixture so that I didn’t need to glaze them after baking.

Jujube Cake (adapted from Bon Appétit)
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup plain fine breadcrumbs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons apricot preserves

Jujubes
6 fresh green jujubes, cut in half, peeled, and seeded
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
A dash each nutmeg, ginger powder, allspice powder, clove powder

Unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (for serving)

Preheat oven 350˚F/175˚C.

Butter one 9 inch round springform pan. Sprinkle bottom and sides with breadcrumbs and tap out the excess. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, place the cut jujubes and toss with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup flour. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg, vanilla, and butter. Using a fork, combine the ingredients to form a sticky ball. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly to the edges of the dish. Spread apricot preserves on the surface with an offset spatula.

Take a jujube half from the bowl and carefully make crosswise cuts in the rounded end of the fruit, just like hasselback potatoes. Don’t cut all the way through. If there is any juice in the bowl, discard. Continue making cuts in the remaining jujube halves. Starting about ¼ inch from the edge lightly press a cut jujube half in the surface of the dough. Continue filling in the spaces, sometimes cutting the jujube half to fit, as pictured.

Bake 55-60 minutes rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing into squares. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

 

christophe’s apple tart

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This is a recipe for tarte aux pommes, the classic French apple tart with a base of apple sauce. Christophe made it for us one night at dinner; it was so delicious I asked him for the recipe. I translated it from the French–with a little help from a French-English dictionary. I tweaked it somewhat, adding lime juice because I like a tart apple sauce. I left out the vanilla/cinnamon in the apple sauce, too. The result is lightly sweet with the tart fresh taste of apple on a buttery crust.

Christophe’s Apple Tart

Prep time: 50 minutes (includes refrigerator time)
Baking time: 30 minutes
Makes 2 x 7-inch tarts

For the Pâte Brisée:
200g all purpose flour (Type 55)
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar

5 medium green apples, peeled and cored
2 tablespoons sugar
juice of 1 small lime, optional
4 tablespoons water
Vanilla or cinnamon, optional

Prepare the pâte brisée. Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter in small pieces. Mix in up to a 1/2 cup water, a tablespoon at a time, or just enough to make a ball, and let rest about 30 minutes in refrigerator wrapped in plastic to firm up the dough.

Baker’s Note: If you’re in a hurry, put the wrapped dough ball in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Make the apple sauce. In a small saucepan put 2 apples cut up into small pieces with the sugar, lime juice (if using), a tablespoon of water, cinnamon or 1 teaspoon vanilla (if using), and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes on low heat (8 minutes in an oven-proof casserole in the microwave), then mix the sauce. Add more water if it seems dry. Set aside to cool. Makes about 1 cup apple sauce.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut up the remaining apples into thin slices. Set aside.

Preheat the oven 200˚C.

Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator and roll it out onto a lightly floured board into a disk. Press dough in the tart pan. Prick the dough with a fork.

Baker’s Note: Lightly flour the board and the rolling pin. First pat the ball into a disk and turn it over to flour the other side. Roll out evenly, turning the dough over now and then to make it a circle about 2 inches wider than your tart pan. The easiest way to get the dough into the pan is to roll up the dough circle onto the pin and then roll it out on top of the tart pan. Don’t worry if it breaks apart. Just use the extra dough to patch it.

Spread the cooled apple sauce over the base of the tart. Arrange the apple slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles on top of the apple sauce. Sprinkle the top with sugar to taste. (I used demerara sugar. ) Bake 30 minutes or until the apples are cooked through and slightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

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ina garten’s apple cake “tatin”

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This recipe is unusual in that it is the rare recipe of Ina’s that I wasn’t satisfied with the results. The sugar syrup became hard candy as the cake cooled, and was not at all the effect I was expecting.

Ingredients
6 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the pie plate
1 1/4 Granny Smith apples peeled and cut into 12 wedges each about 1 1/2 inches at the width (I used Fuji apples)
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 extra-large eggs (I used large eggs)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (I used lime)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I used 1/8 teaspoon table salt)
Confectioner’s sugar (I say this is optional; the cake is sweet enough)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350˚F/175˚C.

Generously butter one 9-inch pie plate and arrange the apples in the plate, cut side down. Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup sugar with 1/3 cup water in a saucepan and heat on high heat until the sugar becomes a warm amber color. About 360˚F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Use a silicone brush dipped in water to clean off the sugar from the sides of the pot. Watch the sugar because you don’t want it to burn. When it becomes brown, pour the sugar mixture over the apples in the pie plate.

Use the paddle attachment to cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. You may need to stop the machine to scrape down the sides. Lower the speed and add the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla, beating until just combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour all at once, beating until just combined. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter on top of the apples in the pie plate. Smooth with an off set spatula being careful not to disturb the sugar syrup underneath. Bake 30-40 minutes or until the top is browned and the center springs back when pressed with a finger.

Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Invert onto a serving plate. If any of the apples loosen, just stick them back into the cake. Serve warm with powdered sugar, if desired.

Refrigerate leftovers. Warm the cake before serving to soften the sugar syrup.

 

apple snow

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The heat wave finally broke with the rain this week. Still, I’ve been looking for cold desserts like this apple snow. Most North Americans might say this is a dessert to be enjoyed in the fall, but to my mind, it’s a dessert for any season. It’s light, tart, and just sweet with a refreshing hint of  apple.

Apple Snow (adapted from the Telegraph)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Chill time: 1-2 hours

9 small apples, peeled, cored, and chopped coarsely
75g superfine or caster sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 egg whites
250ml whipping cream

Place apples in a saucepan with 40g of the sugar, the zest and juice of the lemon. Cover and simmer on low heat 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples begin to soften. Transfer apples to a food processor and process until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, make a meringue by whisking the eggs and the remaining 35g sugar until stiff and glossy. In another bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the meringue and the whipped cream into the cooled apples. Chill and serve.

Serving suggestions: Canned fruits, chilled and drained, such as long-an and rambutan or fruit cocktail and mandarin orange segments; and wafer cookies. In the fall, substitute ginger cookies to add a little heat and spice.

german apple cake with crème fraîche

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Lately, my cakes have tended to be over mixed and dense, with unattractive tunnels. I guessed the problem had to do with the butter being too warm. So I looked up the subject in the book The Science of Good Cooking (Cook’s Illustrated, 2012). Apparently room temperature should  not really mean “room temperature” in baking.  The temperature of the butter should be a cool 60˚F. Once I corrected for this, the cake’s texture improved. This is because the sugar in the butter helps to incorporate air into the butter during creaming. If the butter is too warm, the butter will be over creamed and the cake’s texture will be dense.

I tried applying this knowledge to Martha Stewart’s German Apple Cake. I learned not to follow the times for creaming too closely and instead to watch for changes in the color and texture of the butter-sugar mixture. I really didn’t need to beat the batter after the addition of the egg-vanilla mixture because the mixture already had a curdled appearance. The cake did not rise remarkably but the texture had improved immensely.

German Apple Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 cup All Purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
113g or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (@60˚F on an instant read thermometer)
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Butter an 8 inch square pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter at medium-high speed 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides.  Reduce speed to medium and gradually add 1 cup sugar. This should take 1 minute. Once all the sugar is added, increase speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl once half way through. Reduce speed to medium and stir in the eggs and vanilla in a slow steady stream; this should take another minute. Scrape down the bowl. Beat on medium-high speed 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. The batter should look slightly curdled.
4. Sift the flour mixture on top in 3 additions. Fold in after each addition, scraping along the bottom of the bowl. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
5. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar with the cinnamon. Squeeze lemon juice into a medium bowl. Peel, core, and slice the apples into the bowl. Toss to coat.
6. Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter in overlapping rows, pressing lightly into the batter. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the apples. Bake 35-40 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with crème fraîche. To make a quick crème fraîche, put  1 1/2 cups heavy cream with 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form.

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apple chips

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Oven-Dried Apple Chips

I regretted instantly buying the Red Delicious apples at the store because they weren’t crisp. So naturally, I googled my predicament and found How to Make Oven-Dried Apple Chips on The Kitchn. It required very little sweat investment on my part and I could just pop the apple rings in the oven and forget them. Well, not quite.

Making apple chips is a lazy way to use up apples that are too soft to eat. But it’s the middle of summer here in Bangkok, and though an apple pie would have been more delicious, standing in the heat of the kitchen sweating over a pie crust  is very unappealing at the moment.

To core the apple, I used a corer, a tube-like instrument for removing the apple core without slicing open the whole apple. (See the picture below)

Oven-Dried Apple Chips (from The Kitchn and Allrecipes.com)

1 apple, cored and sliced thinly on a mandoline

Preheat the oven to 225˚F/125˚C.

Arrange the apple slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the apple slices are dried and their edges curl up. Let them cool on a wire cooling rack to become crisp.

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