Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Creamy Apple Tart
One of my all time favourite cookbooks is Pierre Koffmann's Memories of Gascony. One of the reasons I love it is that it is so much more than a cookbook, it evokes the memories of Koffmann's youth and growing up, largely based around his grandparent's farm and especially his grandmother Camille from whom it seems he developed his love of good food and cooking. Camille was a custodian of all the French classics - poule au pot, bouilli, blanquette de veau along with croustade aux pommes caramelisees, crepes and flans of all description, things that are no longer cooked much at home anymore, if at all.
It's sad really, that in this time poor world we don't often get the chance to taste these classics, for in the old days, ingredients would be given enough time to show off their full flavours by using a few different steps that brought out their best. Nowadays it's just get something on the stove as quick as you can, very often pre-prepared food, so you can go off and do something else. Times have changed, we no longer have the luxury of what our ancestors certainly had plenty of and that is time.
There are still people dedicated to preserving and promoting the flavours of the past and following the seasons, they can be found in The Slow Food movement and even though I'm not a paid up member, I do feel a spiritual connection to them, especially whenever cooking an older recipe, you know, one that takes more than ten minutes. At this time of year, when the apple harvest is in full swing, there is one recipe I love to cook and have been cooking for more than fifteen years and that is a creamy apple tart. There are a few different steps to it, all requiring some kitchen skills as in pastry making and cooking caramel, but the result is the most sublime tart you could ever imagine. Whenever I serve this, I'm always asked for the recipe, every child knows that caramel (toffee) and apples go together so well and this tart is the grown up proof in the pudding.
Creamy Apple Tart
Adapted from Memories of Gascony
250 g (9 oz) flour
5 g (3/4 teaspoon salt)
10 g (1.5 teaspoons) sugar
150 g (5 oz) butter, diced and slightly softened
1 tablespoon milk
Place the flour, sugar and salt on a work counter, make a well in the centre and put in the egg and butter. Gradually rub in the flour and when everything is almost mixed, add the milk and knead the dough two or three times to combine everything. Try not to work it too much or the dough will shrink back later. Leave to rest in the fridge for an hour. Roll out to fit a 25 cm (10") flan dish and prick the base with a fork all over. Line with foil, fill with pastry weights or beans and rest in the fridge for thirty minutes. Bake in a 200 c (400 f) preheated oven for ten minutes, remove the weights and foil and cook for another ten minutes.
5 large golden delicious or Cox's orange pippin apples
50 g butter
100 g caster sugar
125 ml double cream
2 egg yolks
Peel and core the apples and cut each into eight segments. Heat the butter and 75 g sugar in a large pot, add the apples and slowly cook until the apples are half done and remove them. Boil down the remaining juices until a caramel forms, then carefully add the cream and remaining sugar, be careful it will splatter. When combined and somewhat cooled whisk in the egg yolks and cinnamon. Arrange the apples neatly in the tart case and pour over the caramel. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
Labels: creamy apple tart