Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tarte aux pommes

Let's hear it for autumn and apples. Never mind the fact that Chicago is experiencing fake summer (it's 85º today), the elusive Honeycrisp apple is in season and I have a hankering for pie... or should I say, a hankering for pie's more sophisticated cousin, the tart. I completed tarts class a few weeks ago, and absolutely loved it — these too-gorgeous-to-eat pastries are amazingly simple to make.

Take for instance, the tarte aux pommes (apple tart) — it's a staple dessert in France and consists of a sweet dough crust (Patê sucrée), an apple compote filling, and topped with delicately sliced apples. Nope, this ain't your mama's apple pie. The recipe I used was from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Hey, did you know that she attended Le Cordon Bleu at the tender age of 37? ;) How inspiring!

After much apprehension, I finally have my first stagiaire scheduled. It will be at Rarebird Preserves, — a fellow FPS graduate and culinary entrepreneur who just started selling her jams to Whole Foods. I am so looking forward to it!

Tarte aux pommes
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

  • 9 or 10-inch sweet dough pastry shell (recipe here:
  • 4 pounds cooking apples (your preference, I used Honeycrisp and Granny Smith)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam/preserves
  • 1/3 cup Calvados, rum or cognac (or 1 tablespoon vanilla)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar for topping
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375º F. Quarter, core, and peel the apples. Cut enough to make 3 cups into 1/8-inch lengthwise slices and toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice and sugar. Reserve them for the top of the tart.

Cut the rest of the apples into rough slices. You should have about 8 cups. Place in a pan and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

Beat in apricot jam, Calvados, sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Raise heat and boil, stirring, until applesauce is thick enough to hold in a mass in the spoon.

Spread the applesauce in the pastry shell. Cover with a neat, closely overlapping layer of sliced apples arranged in concentric circles.

Bake in upper third of preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the apples have browned lightly and are tender. Slide the tart onto a serving dish and paint over it with a light coating of apricot glaze (see below for recipe). Serve warm with whipping cream or a scoop of ice cream.

Apricot Glaze
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves, forced through a sieve
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Stir the strained apricot preserves and sugar over moderately high heat until thick enough to coat the spoon with a light film, and the last drops are sticky as they fall from the spoon (225-228º F) on a candy thermometer). Do not boil past this point or the glaze will become brittle as it cools.


  1. yeah, i had to look up stagiaire. You said your "first", does that mean you will participate in more than one?

  2. Yes Victoria, our school actually recommends that we complete at least 10 stagiaires before we complete the program.

  3. THAT is beautiful!!!!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  4. Thanks Mary — I'm glad you found me too!