It’s that time of the year for fresh, crisp, sweet, tart and juicy apples. It’s Fall or Autumn season, depending on your word preference, the coziest time of the year. It is apple picking time and pumpkin picking time. A time to celebrate and enjoy the weekends with our loved ones in nature.
Apple picking is one of my favorite Autumn activities to do with my family. Recently, I visited an organic farm in New Jersey with my family and the apples were amazing!!! The smell of fresh apples were everywhere at this apple orchard and quite frankly the apples we picked were are the best! Nothing better than picking the fruit you eat. This also teaches children where their food comes from. And they can taste it and have the full experience of “Farm to table.”
I am sure you have heard the famous Welsh proverb, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” Well, there is a substantial amount of truth in that statement. Apples are a super fruit! They contain vitamin C- which boosts our body’s resistance against infectious agents; they contain the B-complex vitamins (vitamin B-6, riboflavin and thiamin);they are a great source of dietary fiber, which aides in preventing high cholesterol; they are rich in minerals such as calcium (good for bone strength) potassium (aides in muscles cramping) and phosphorus (helps with kidney function). Apples are also great for your skin. Ever notice people who eat apples have a beautiful complexion? So eat up! Organic is best, but if you cannot find organic, make sure you wash the apples really, really well.
We picked and ate quite a few beauties. So now we had to figure out what we were going to do with all of these apples besides cutting them and serving them with either peanut butter or just eating them whole. I think it is always nice to prepare an eye appealing dessert that also tastes great. So I opted for a French Apple Tart. It makes a beautiful dessert presentation and tastes amazing too. Now, I have made many variations of apple tarts, but this one is one that you would find in a French bakery selling for around $40 in New York City. Yes, $40, I checked! And I bet they are not all organic either like mine!
This tart not only incorporated fresh picked apples but also a refreshing apple sauce base, yum! And wait until you see how wonderful your kitchen will smell! Even more yummy. The crust is very buttery and it holds its’ shape so it definitely makes a nice dessert to present. Serve this tart either plain or with some good vanilla ice cream! But as always, Enjoy!
French Apple Tart
For the crust:
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup apricot preserves, heated and strained
- 1 tablespoon either Grand Marnier, cognac or water
For the Apple Filling:
- 1 ¼ cups unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 ½ pounds (about 4 large) firm apples, I used granny smith
- 2-4 teaspoons granulated sugar (depending on how sweet your apples are)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
For the topping:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the dough:
With a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar until softened. Add in 1 large egg and the lemon zest. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to incorporate the ingredients. Next, gradually add in the sifted flour and salt. Incorporate. Make sure all the flour is mixed in. Flatten into a round disc and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 45-60 minutes.
Remove the dough and place on a floured surface. You may either roll out the dough to 12-13-inch circle or do as I did and roll it out a bit and place into the pan covering the sides and bottom evenly, pressing into the sides. Make sure you so not pull the dough, or it will shrink. Make the dough even with the top of the pan. Prick the bottom of the pan with the tines of a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees C) Place the prepared pan onto a baking sheet and remove the plastic wrap. Place a lightly greased sheet of parchment paper on top and cover with pie weights, dry rice or dry beans to fill the pan. This will prevent the dough from puffing while baking. Place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and reset the oven to 350 degrees F or 176.67 degrees C. Remove the weights and the parchment paper and place the pan on the baking sheet back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes to cook the base of the dough. Remove and allow to cool.
While the dough is baking, in a small saucepan, heat the apricot preserves with the choice of liquid over a low heat. Remove and strain to get rid of any lumps. Once the dough is slightly cooled brush the entire pastry with the apricot glaze. This will add flavor to the tart and seal the pastry. Evenly spoon the applesauce into the cooled tart. Set aside.
Peel, core and cut the apples in half and then slice into ¼ slices. In a large skillet melt the butter and then add in the apples. Drizzle the lemon juice and sprinkle in the cinnamon. Cook over low heat until the apples become soft but not mushy. Remove and allow them to cool enough to handle.
Place the apples over the applesauce in concentric circles, making sure to overlap the slices for a beautiful presentation. Brush with the melted butter. Place the tart onto the baking sheet and into the preheated 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes, until the apples are fork tender. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Then brush with the remaining apricot glaze. Place the tart over a large inverted even topped bowl and slide the side of the tart pan down to remove. This is just an easier way of removing the side of the tart pan. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with some powdered sugar. Enjoy