Sunday, December 28, 2008

Normandy Apple Tart (or, Adventures in Applesauce)

Normandy Apple Tart

I love Dorie Greenspan's Baking book--I've made at least 10 recipes from it by now and every single one has been terrific. I don't know if it's just me but I find that a lot of recipe books lately have a lot of errors (sometimes glaring! like a certain cake recipe from a book-that-shall-not-be-named which neglected to give measurements for flour) or which are converted improperly from the metric measurements. I've never had a problem like that with Baking AND it's beautifully photographed and full of little anecdotes and tips. It's my current favorite book (although my wonderful brother got me a Nick Malgieri book for Christmas on!)

This recipe is no exception. I could not locate my tart ring (a recurring theme with me) so I made it in an 8" removable bottom cake pan. It's a bit deeper than it was intended to be and of course, somewhat more rustic looking (especially in the crust edges as you can see above), but you know, I actually found the ratio of apple to crust to be more to my preference this way. I'm usually a crust person, but this applesauce is SO GOOD.

And now for the "learn from my stupidity" part of the post. When I read instructions that tell me to puree something with a food mill, I usually shrug and reach for a potato masher or a mesh sieve and a spoon. BUT (and you know there is a but), I fell victim again to missing implements--in this case, my large mesh sieve was MIA. "Oh well," I thought, "I have this little one that I use for sifting powdered sugar. So it'll take a little longer...big deal!" Two hours later, I was sweaty, covered in bits of apple, my hand was sore, I had invoked and then cursed a number of deities, and all I had to show for it was a smallish bowl of sauce. Fortunately it was a delicious bowl of sauce (thank you Greenmarket farmers!) or I think I might have cried. Anyway, I have learned my lesson--I'm going to go get a food mill. And when I do, there will be delicious Normandy apple tart for all.

Normandy Apple Tart (recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)
2 pounds apples (I used a mix of Gala, McIntosh, and Honeycrisp)
1/4 cup water
half a stick of cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 medium apples (I used Fuji)

1 9" tart crust, partially baked and cooled

For the crust, use your favorite sweet tart dough; there is an excellent one in Dorie's book, although I used a batch of pate sucree I had left from another baking endeavor.

Peel and core the apples and chop into 1" chunks (of course if you have a food mill, you can cut them larger and leave the skin and cores intact). Place in a saucepan with the water, cinnamon, and brown sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. You want to cook the apples until they are extremely soft; if the water boils away before this happens, add enough a bit at a time so the apples don't stick to the bottom of the pan. When the apples are soft enough, remove from heat and process through a food mill (or push through a (LARGE) sieve.) Under no circumstances should you use what amounts to a glorified tea strainer. This is your last warning! If the applesauce seems thin, return it to the pan and cook very, very gently until it thickens slightly. Stir in vanilla, transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

When ready to assemble the pie, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fill the baked and cooled tart shell (which you have left in the pan) with the applesauce almost to the top; place the filled pan on a baking sheet. To make the topping, peel and halve the two apples and remove the cores. Cut each half into very thin, neat slices and arrange in concentric circles over the applesauce, overlapping slightly. You could arrange them in any old way, but concentric circles is pretty. Dorie's recipe calls for an eggwash but I skipped it and sprinkled some coarse sugar on top instead. Bake for 50 minutes or until the apples are golden and easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Cool and eat!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!


This post has nothing to do with food, but I just had to show off my awesome new Christmas present, so Totoro and I want to wish everyone happy holidays!

And we did feast royally (lamb for lunch, steamboat for dinner). There, now it is a food post!