Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thin Apple Tart (Tarte Fine aux Pommes) - My Go-to Dessert

Everybody loves an apple tart, and there are many approaches to this classic. One, which I learned nearly 35 years ago in Paris, is the tarte fine aux pommes, or thin apple tart.

There are two versions: simple and simpler.

Simple version: Roll out pâte brisée to whatever shape you want, including a tart pan, but without high sides. Array apple slices in the most attractive manner you can. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 400-425 degrees until done, usually about 30-40 minutes. The apples should have beautiful color. Brush with apricot jam and let cool. Serve as is or with crème fraîche or ice cream.

Last night I brought two of these on half-sheet pans to a party given by friends in honor of a Japanese ceramic artist. They were very well received.

Tarte fine aux pommes: the simple version, made with pâte brisée
Simpler version: Exactly the same as the simple version, but use store-bought puff pastry (Dufour's all-butter is far and away the best), thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Make sure you leave a 1/2 inch border, which will rise majestically above the rest of the tart. For a slight prettier version, brush the exposed crust with an egg wash made with a yolk plus a tablespoon or so of water.

Trick for either version: I forgot where I got this trick, but it is nice to sprinkle a lot of thyme (really!) under the apples. This imparts a subtle but noticeable herbal taste/scent to the tart that is worth the few seconds it takes to do. You can see a piece or two coming through in the photo above.

For either version, you need to slice apples. If you want super-thin slices, you can use a mandolin. In this case, you need to roll the tart dough very thin so it will become crispy in the time it takes the apples to cook.

If you want slightly thicker ones, which I generally use, you can cut the apples by hand, but the most efficient way is to use an apple peeler/corer/slicer, like the one I described in my post of December 8, 2008. This device gives you perfect slices in about 10 seconds per apple, and I find that the approximately 1/8 inch thickness is fine for this type of apple tart.

No matter what you do, it is hard to screw up an apple tart, and your guests will love whatever version you make.

Bobby Jay

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