Friday, May 21, 2010

Apple Crumble Tart

As I wait patiently for the arrival of more spring fruit, I return again to my favorite staple, apples. I always have apples on my table so they quickly became the focus of this great little tart.

This is a very easy crust that envelops apple slices lightly sugared and sautéed in a bit of butter. To that I’ve added one of my favorite flavor combinations for apples, vanilla bean and lemon zest. Just before putting the tart in the oven, I sprinkle a very tiny bit of crushed fleur de sel over the top. The end product reminds me of a French apple tart without having to chill and roll out the crust.

This tart is rather simple and rustic but very delicious in its own way, not too sweet or heavily spiced. The flavor and texture of the apples balance each bite nicely. It would be perfect for brunch, an afternoon snack or as a dessert course with some great cheddar cheese.

Bench notes:
- For more flair, you can add a little bit of finely chopped thyme or rosemary to the apple sauté in place of the vanilla bean. If you prefer a more American treatment, use brown sugar to sauté the apples and add a pinch of cinnamon. Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon sugar on top of the assembled tart before baking.
- Fleur de sel (flower of salt) is a special salt harvested by hand. It has a flaky texture and a softer flavor. For this pastry, I crush it with a rolling pin for a fine sprinkle.
- I'm often asked about baking pan substitutions. You always want to try to substitute a pan that has the same volume so you don't have to adjust the baking time and you can still wind up with a similar presentation of height. The Baking Pan has a very good list of dimensions and volumes that they've accumulated from several authoritative chefs and cookbooks. It has lots of different sizes and types of baking pans for easy comparison.

Apple Crumble Tart

1 1/2 C flour
1/4 C + 2 T sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t lemon zest
4 oz (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 egg yolks
1/4 C sour cream

2 small apples or 1 1/2 large apples
1 T butter
2 T sugar
1/3 vanilla bean
scant 1/4 t lemon zest

tiny pinch of crushed fleur de sel (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the apples by peeling, coring and slicing them 1/4” thick. Melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced apples, sugar and lemon zest. Slit the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds and add them and the bean casing to the mix. Sauté the apples for about 5 – 8 minutes or until they are softened a bit and the aromas of the vanilla and lemon zest have permeated the fruit. Set aside to cool.

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Mix the yolks and sour cream together and add to the food processor. Pulse just a few times until the mixture looks like it’s coming together. Do not overmix. The dough should be very crumbly. Pour into a large bowl and toss gently with your hands.

Pour about 2/3 of the dough crumbles into a 14” x 4” tart pan or a 9” tart pan. Gently spread an even layer without compressing it. Just make sure that the pan is covered and there aren’t any holes. Layer the cooled apples on top. Sprinkle the remaining dough crumble over the top of the apples. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of fleur de sel, if desired.

Place the tart on a sheet pan lined with parchment and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Cool completely before removing from the tart pan to serve.


Audrey said...

this looks delicious, it's very pretty, and I love that it has a press-in crust. (I'm still pastry-impaired.) And I have that tart pan! Thanks for creating and posting this.

chefwanabe said...

Lovely, I have a new tart pan too! I'm going to try it this weekend. I love your blog, thank you for the inspiration!

Victoria said...

I am so happy to see this beautiful apple tart.

New York State has lovely apples - but not the glorious local stone fruits you have access to in California. So I am always jealous when I see recipes for apricot tarts, peach pies, and nectarine fillings.

(I must interject I was able to snag some local apricots last year, which didn't have the natural flavor yours do, but I used your recipe for apricot compote adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen, and they were simply divine.)

But this I can this apple tart right now! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

pastry studio said...

Hello and thank you for your feedback. Glad to hear we all have a nice assortment of tart pans!

Victoria, I am truly grateful every day for the wonderful produce and lovely artisan products available in my region. It's a real treasure that I luxuriate in at every opportunity.

I was just thinking about that apricot compote yesterday and dreaming about the new crop of apricots about to arrive soon. Those apricots bathing in that syrup are just the most delicious thing imaginable, especially when paired with the Cornmeal Cake. I also think it would be amazing with Noyau Ice Cream. And maybe Buttermilk Ice Cream. OK, I better stop right there.

Happy Spring, everybody!

Aneta said...

How lovely! Apples are in full swing here in Melbourne, and I love the crunch of crumbles, and so beautifully presented here in a tart form. Thanks, by the way, for providing The Baking Pan link.

I seem to have an inbuild default setting for altering recipes before I've even made them (I was going to use cardamom instead of the lemon zest) which may work, but I'm going to practise restraint and make it as it is this first time.

Thank you for the recipe.

OLGUIS said...

wow can I have a piece it looks so good.



Cristina said...

That a delicious and beautiful apple tart! The crust and topping looking wonderful. Desserts with apples and or bananas are always a sure winner with me!

Mary Miller-Duke said...

This recipe is a perfect excuse to get a tart pan! I have to wait to buy different baking gear until I have a recipe to try, otherwise my kitchen would overflow. Thanks for this fabulous recipe!

Vote for Starry Night by #33 in the Ultimate Sprinkle Contest (link via name).

khom said...

what type of apple you use? I'm not sure which is great for tart.

pastry studio said...

Hi Khom. I used Fuji apples. You can also use Cortland or Granny Smith, which is fairly tart. There are quite a few varieties out there that work, except for Red Delicious, which breaks down when baked.

Adriana said...

that tart looks beyond awesome... i just saw you have a recipe for leche merengada! i'm from spain and i was like... whoa! amazing! great recipes all over the blog!

Adriana from Baking Powders

pastry studio said...

Welcome to you, Adriana! I just discovered Leche Merengada last year and it's delicious.

I have to say, so many of you have such wonderful food blogs. It's such a pleasure to be introduced to the great fun and work everyone is sharing out there. Thank goodness for all this creativity in the kitchen!

Lauren said...

I made this and it was wonderful! I added a bit of fresh rosemary and a squeeze of lemon while warming the apples. I also tossed the apples in a tablespoon of flour to soak the juices after warming and before putting them into the tart. I used a 9' circular tart pan, and would probably do 1.5x the amount of crust next time. But overall, the recipe was easy and so delicious. My partner much prefers it to my tart with tedious pastry crust! Thank you for the recipe and beautiful, inspiring blog.

pastry studio said...

Lauren, thanks so much for your wonderful feedback. I really appreciate it. I'm so pleased that you enjoyed this recipe. It really is a simple and delicious tart. I also love rosemary and apples and glad you had a chance to try that as well.

Here's to apple season!