Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A Simple and Classic French Dessert

Seriously, this dessert is one of the most impressive combinations of simplicity and dining wow factor you can find. It's made from stuff that I already had in the house too -- butter, flour, sugar and apples. Nothing more.

 Ready for the oven.
At this time of year my stored homegrown apples are starting to look a bit wizened so I start to think about using them up. Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini posted a recipe recently for une Tarte fine caramélisée aux pommes (a Thin Caramelised Apple Tart) and it is a dish one encounters regularly in French restaurants, elegantly simple and delicious.

Out of the oven, now to sprinkle with sugar and flash under the grill.
I had a supply of rough puff pastry in the freezer left over from making steak and kidney pie, so all I had to do was peel and slice some apples, melt some butter and put it all together. Of course, there is a trick to it, but the trick is as simple as the rest of the recipe.

And this is what you get on your plate. Yum.
Here's how you do it:

Turn your oven on to 175°C. Line a flat oven tray with baking paper. Brush a rectangle on the paper with melted butter. Sprinkle it with sugar. Roll out the pastry to match, cut off any excess so it forms a neat rectangle and lay it carefully on top of the butter and sugar rectangle. Arrange the apple slices neatly on the pastry, leaving a border of about 1.5 cm all the way around the edge. Brush the apple and the pastry edge with melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle sugar on the tart and place under the grill for 2 minutes. The butter and sugar underneath and on top of the tart caramelises and takes this simple dessert to another level of sophistication. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature, cut into 6 squares and placed unadorned on side plates but maybe accompanied by a Vouvray moelleux. If you are feeling refined, eat it with a fork, but we just pick it up and eat it with our hands.

With thanks to Clotilde, who posted the original recipe, with step by step picture instructions. Mine doesn't look quite as elegant as hers as I was using up random sized apples. That's my excuse anyway.
Loire Valley Nature: A section on Harpalus spp has been added to the Ground Beetles Carabidae entry.
A photo has been added to the European Hornet Vespa crabro entry.
A new entry has been added for Bracket Fungi Polyporaceae.
A new entry has been added for Centipedes Chilopoda.
Advice Wanted: We are thinking of buying an android TV box/mini PC thingy to use as a 'media centre', principally allowing us to download television programmes and watch them at our leisure. This one seems good value. Does anyone have experience of using such a thing?


  1. Random sized apples, gal?
    Don't you have one of them bits of board with holes in...
    so that you can grade them to EU standards?

    You've done a "Ken" on me...
    I'll have to go and have something to eat before I get an acid stomach!!
    That tart looks the bizniss....
    I can small the slight caramelly odour from here....
    now, where's the cream...........

  2. Tim: no, no cream. It's almost always served on its own, and quite right too.

  3. It looks lovely!!
    Thanks for the link and the inspiration!

  4. I have used Clotilde's recipes for many things, in fact, I was lucky enough to test some of her recipes for her first Choc. & Zucchini cookbook....the oven roasted ratatouille is excellent & so easy, and there's a choc. caramel tarte to die for....worth a look for all you cooks out there...oh and yogurt cake,yum

  5. Melinda: I use Clotilde quite a bit too and read her regularly.

  6. Oh yum. Do you deliver to Amboise !?

  7. Stuart: Make your own! :-) It's easy and you'll get twice the satisfaction.

  8. This is very close of JM's though not presented in the same way. I would have called it a thin crust apple tart though because it's the crust that's thin, not the apple, but that's just me being pedantic ... I would never get away with cutting the apples so unevenly though.

  9. Susan and Simon, I've never seen one of those mini TV, Android things, and I've heard no reports. But I do download or stream TV shows on my Android tablet, which I really like and which has an HDMI port so that I can attach it to the TV. Or if I download shows to a an SD card, I can just plug the card into the TV and watch that way. I think Android is a solid OS, with lots of apps available.

  10. Ken: Thanks for offering your experiences with Android.

    Fraussie: I remembered you writing about JM's apple tart and checked it before making this to see how different it was. I also thought about the phrasing of the name in both French and English because there is also the question of whether it is the apples which are caramelised or the whole thing. With regard to the thin bit, the pastry isn't all that thin, the whole tart is thin. With regard to the apples, I was working with imperfect fruit -- misshapen, different sizes, the odd bit I had to cut out and so on. No way of getting perfectly identical slices throughout. I liked Clotilde's idea of cutting whole rings and overlapping half so you got easy perfect semi-circles.

  11. JM is my husband Jean Michel. He makes this wonderful apple tart. I never help him because I don't cut the apple slices carefully enough. But it gives me a good excuse to suggest he make it from time to time.

  12. Susan, as you know, Jean Michel is the one who's a stickler about cutting up the apples properly. His crust really is thin. If it's a puff pastry, yes, it would be all that thin.

  13. Thanks for the clarification. I thought JM might be a TV chef/cookbook author that I ought to know about.