Monday, May 20, 2013

Apple Nougatine Tart

"Apple Nougatine Tart"... Doesn't that sound delicious already?! This tart is about as wonderful as its name sounds. You will have to put some effort into this, but it's totally worth it, I swear! The home-made flaky crust is divine. Store-bought dough just wouldn't do. Caramelizing the apples takes a bit of patience, but it's quite a joyous thing to do and what you get out of it is a mouth-watering filling. Good news: The crunchy almond topping is really easy to make. Just mix the ingredients, spread on your tart and you're good to go.

(from the lovely Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson)

Flaky Tart Dough (Recipe yields two 25cm tart or pie shells):

1tsp salt
150ml water, very cold
455g flour
300g butter, very cold

In a small bowl, add salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Keep very cold until ready to use.

To make the dough, put flour in a large bowl. Cut the butter into pieces and scatter over the flour. You can rub it together with your hands or pulse this in a food processor. When the mixture forms large crumbs and there are still butter pieces the size of peas left, add the water-and-salt mixture and knead with your hands or pulse again in the food processor until you have a more or less smooth dough. It's no problem if there are still butter chunks left. 

On a floured surface, divide the dough into two equal balls and shape each ball into a disk. Wrap in cling film and cool for about two hours or over night. You can freeze one of these and use it another time.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Lift and rotate the dough every few strokes to discourage sticking and work quickly. Transfer the disk to a tart tin (25cm diameter) that is lined with parchment paper.

Cover the dough with parchment paper and then with beans or chickpeas and blind bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly brown. Take out of the oven, remove the parchment paper with the beans or chickpeas and bake for another 5 minutes until golden brown. Then, let cool completely.

For the filling:

1.6kg apples (I only had 1kg, but that was no problem, I had enough filling in the end.)
55g butter
70g sugar
a pinch of salt
lemon juice and grated zest of half a medium lemon

Preheat the oven to 170°C and have the tart shell ready.

To make the filling, halve, core, peel and slice the apples, mixing them together in a large bowl. Have an empty bowl ready for the sautéed apples. Sauté the apples in 3 or 4 batches, depending on how large your pan is. Divide the butter and the sugar into the number of batches you think you'll need for sautéing.

Melt the butter in your sauté pan over high heat. Add the sugar and allow it to caramelize; the mixture will darken as it caramelizes. If the sugar is caramelizing unevenly, stir with a wooden spoon; otherwise, just let it cook. Carefully add the apples to your pan an a single layer and sauté until soft, turning a few times with the spoon. You want about half the apples to become very soft and the other half to hold their shape. The timing depends on the types of apples and the thickness of the slices. When the apples are ready, transfer to your bowl.

Don't clean the pan between the batches; the sugar and bits of apple in the bottom of them pan will caramelize and add more flavor. Melt more butter, add sugar and caramelize again. It won't take as long as the first time. Repeat until all your apples are sautéed. When all the apples are cooked, deglaze the pan by increasing the heat to high and letting it become very hot. Add a few large spoonfuls of water and scrape up the caramel and bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the juices reduce and then pour them over the apples.

When all the apples have been cooked, mix them well with lemon juice, zest and salt and pile them into the pre-baked pastry shell. Smooth the top of the apples with the back of the spoon.  

For the topping:

100g sliced almonds
100g sugar
2 large egg whites
a pinch of salt

To make the topping, combine the almonds, sugar, egg whites and salt in a small mixing bowl and stir well. Using a spoon, spread the topping evenly over the apples. 

Bake the tart until the topping is browned, about 30 minutes. Then, let cool completely before serving. The tart will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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