Monday, 21 November 2011
The moment I tasted the tart you see here, I danced around my kitchen in jubilation. I've been trying to recreate this recipe for almost as long as I've been cooking.
The tarte aux pommes at Chez Simon is legendary. It's a Verbier staple - I've eaten it every winter for 19 years.
I finally discovered the key a few days ago: cream (as in all good things). There's this wonderful touch of creaminess underneath the apples I couldn't work out. It's not a full layer - just a tiny touch that slightly curdles into the juices. I can't explain why this is so heavenly, but it is. You can use either double cream or sour cream.
Together with a simple pastry, just-cooked apples and plenty of cinnamon and sugar, you have winter perfection. All you need is hot chocolate and a blustery wind to redden your cheeks. Sparkly snow optional.
Tarte aux Pommes
(inspired by Chez Simon's original, though I don't have his recipe)
For the pastry:
60g plain flour
1 tsp sugar
30g cold butter, cut into cubes
cold water to bind (about 1.5 tbsp)
For the filling:
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 fairly tart apples, such as Granny Smith
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp double cream or sour cream
Sieve the flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Toss in the cubes of cold butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a tablespoon of water and use a blunt knife to combine with the crumbs. Add a dribble more water until the dough comes together into a ball (use your hands at the end). Squish into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes.
When the pastry has chilled, roll it out on a lightly flour-dusted surface into a circle an inch larger than your tin (a shallow 8” tin is perfect) – there is enough dough but it will be thin. Drape the pastry over your rolling pin and place it into the tin. Press into the corners and sides. Leave to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Trim the sides down to 2cm, press in again and prick the bottom all over with a fork. Then line with paper and pack tightly to the top with baking beans. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked except for a little dampness in the centre.
Place the lemon juice in a medium sized bowl and add a few inches of water. Peel the apples, placing them in the water as you go to stop browning. Half and quarter the apples and slice out the core. Thinly cut them lengthways into strips, so you have a pile of semi-circles – this is faster if you have a mandolin.
Turn the oven up to 220C/425F. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small container. Spread the sour cream over the bottom of the pastry case in a thin layer. Drain the apple slices, then tart arranging them in the case – begin with a row down the middle, tightly overlapping them so you don’t see the cored middle. Continue to the bottom and then start another row, repeating until the case is covered.
Sprinkle evenly with the sugar mix and bake at the top of the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the apples are soft (and knife should easily go through them) and the pastry is lightly browned. Best eaten while it’s still warm with your hands, like a slice of pizza.
(Makes 6 slices)