I've been intrigued by this recipe since I became fascinated with Julia Child. The French recipe for apple tart is so different than anything like an apple pie in the United Sates. How could two desserts made of a pastry shell filled with apples and sugar be so different?
The ingredients fell into place when I tried a new 'press in' crust recipe yesterday and found both apples and applesauce in my refrigerator today. I had left the crust to chill overnight, unsure of what the filling would be. I friend gave me some apples from his tree earlier in the week and suggested that I might have enought to make a pie, and I had extra jars of organic unsweetened applesauce in the pantry.
French Apple Tart (Tarte Aux Pommes)
Recipe from Julia Child in The French Chef Cookbook
2 pastry shells, partially baked (recipe at end of post)
3 to 4 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons apple brandy, cognac, or rum or 1T pure vanilla extract
zest of one organic lemon or lime
2 Tablespoons butter
3 apples, sliced into 1/8 inch slices
1/2 cup apricot jam, strained, and boiled
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat applesauce in a shallow, wide saucepan with the sugar, liqueur or vanilla and zest. Boil down, sitrring frequently, until sauce is thick enough to hold in a mass in the spoon. The hot applesauce will sputter and spit everywhere as it reduces. Do not make my mistake of using a smallish pan. I'm not sure if I should have let it boil longer, but I had enough filling for two tarts. Stir in the butter, and turn applesauce into pastry shells, filling almost to the brim. Arrange closely overlapping raw apple slices over the top in concentric circles. I think I could have placed the apples more tightly here. Bake for 30 -40 minutes. Unmold the tart onto a serving plate; paint top and sides with warm apricot jam. Serve hot, warm, or cold.
I tried this crust recipe from Martha Stewart (and luckily doubled it):
Shortbread Crust for 1 Tart:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
Combine well, using hands to knead if necessary. Press into 10" tart pan using knuckles to spread and flatten. Press the dough up around the sides to make raised edges. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the dough until the surface smooth and even. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then fill and bake again according to recipe.
This crust is very much like a cookie and was delicious, but too salty. I might have measured carelessly, but I think I'll reduce the salt the next time I make it. The tart was really pretty and totally scrumptious. I was surprised that the effect of the reduced applesauce filling is to make each bite intensley apple flavored. Compared to the traditional american apple pie, this dessert has much more purely apple essence per mouthful, but it's a totally different dish and is like comparing apple pie to lemon pie.