Normandy... the land of half-timbered houses, and rolling countryside epitomized by pastures for dairy cattle and apple orchards. No wonder rich butter, apples and cream have found their way into this typical Norman tart. "Les Normandes" love their apples, as well they should due to their abundance and beauty. They make them into cider, apple brandy, and of course, those iconic apples are the star of many desserts found in Normandy.
The "trou normand" or literally translated "Norman hole" is the pause in the meal between courses in which the diners drink a glassful of calvados to make room for the next course and improving the appetite by way of a hole being made into the contents of ones stomach by the calvados... a sensible yet lovely tradition, in my opinion, still in practice today.
Most families in Normandy have their own apple tart recipe which has been passed down through the generations. The classic apple tart is spotted in many pastry shop windows throughout France. This simple apple tart is baked in a sweet cream custard, the perfect way to bring together the cream, butter and apples of Normandy.
Tarte aux pommes à la crème
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
6 table spoons sugar - 4 in custard and 2 sprinkled on top
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into eights
1 pre-baked pâte sucrée (see below)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Starting from the outside, arrange the apple slices in concentric circles, overlapping them slightly. In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, cream and 4 tablespoons of the sugar. Pour the custard over the apples. Sprinkle the tart with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tart is golden brown on top and the apples are soft. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pâte Sucrée - basic sweet pastry dough
This dough freezes well so I like to make this dough in a double batch and freeze the other one for later use if I'm not using it right away. I figure if you're going to the effort to make pastry dough then you might as well make two... so this recipe is a double. Remember, the key to a successful and flakey crust is to work quickly and keep the dough cold. You want the butter to remain in little pea sized balls throughout the dough for a flakey crust.
300 grams flour (2 cups) I like to weigh my flour for more accuracy
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
14 tablespoons unsalted butter - chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ice water
In a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse until combined. Add the chopped butter and pulse until the butter is in small pea sized balls. Add the water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Put the dough out to a floured surface and make into a large mound and cut in half with a pastry scraper. I like to weigh the halves so that they are equal. Put each half onto a square of wax paper and form into a disk. Wrap with the paper and chill for at least one hour.
If you are freezing at this time, then wrap again in foil and freeze. Let dough defrost in the refrigerator before use.
Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 13" circle. Place dough into a 10" tart pan and fold the overhang inward and press gently into the sides. Do not force or stretch the dough because a thin spot may cause the filling to leak. The dough edges should be a little bit higher than the side of the tart pan to help prevent shrinkage. Prick the bottom of the shell with your fork. Press a piece of foil (12"x13") into the edges of the shell and cover with the foil completely touching and covering the entire shell. Chill for at least a half an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Completely fill the foil covered shell with pie weights or dried beans. Put the shell into the pre heated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and remove beans and foil. Brush the inside of the shell with a beaten egg white to prevent leakage from small cracks. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes and bake until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack.
The shell is ready to fill!
For printable recipe, click here.
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