Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. This autumnal tart from Kitchen Butterfly began with a visit to an orchard, and ended on a plate.
When I think of orchards, I always see sunshine, blue skies, and windfalls—loads of apples littered about the base of a big tree with wide branches and leafy greens somewhere in Italy. I see grandpa with his golfer’s hat, sitting at the table, his elbows resting on the red and white gingham tablecloth, while his wife, grandma, works with her hands and voice, giving instruction to the rest of her crew on which apples should go where for what and by when. The whole scene is wrapped in family, fun, and laughter.
So, imagine my excitement when my daughter’s class had a trip to an apple orchard planned. I volunteered to go straight away.
On the morning of our trip, the sun woke up with us, enveloping everything in its path with warmth and light. (I ticked one item off on my orchard bucket list.) But, just in case, because we were living in the Netherlands where experiencing four seasons in one day is not at all uncommon, we packed up our rain gear.
We wandered through pear trees and pig sties, across cheese factories and goat pens. We stopped to admire the rows and rows of pear trees they had planted. Comice, Concorde, and even chocolate ones, which smelled like wine and which we didn’t dare taste. And then we came upon the apples, trees also laid out in vine-like rows. Small trees too, only an arm or leg taller than me, and I’m a mere 5’4”. Nowhere as high as the Italian apple trees of my dreams.
And then, just as we were unleashed on the trees to pick our very own apples, guess what happened? Oh yes, rain. Lots of rain, heavy rain, poured out on us by the bucket—and you know that heaven’s buckets are 100 times fuller than earth's. So yes, we all got soaked. But we all had our apples, wisselvallig (fickle) as the weather was.
At home, I made some apple curd, modifying my lemon curd recipe, using the cooked flesh of two apples, some apple juice, and the other usual suspects—eggs, sugar, and butter. The end result was a very apple-y tasting condiment that would make a great apple butter substitute with its smooth autumn flavors.
Then it was time to toss the coin between apple sponge cakes and an apple tart. It was tails and so began the journey to make Tarte Aux Pomme et Sucre. I made a thin shortcrust base, and while pastry chilled in the fridge, I began making my creme patisserie—eggs, sugar, milk, and cornflour—which, once ready, was set aside to cool down. Then came the rolling out of the pastry, blind baking, and leaving it to cool. On top of the cooled crust I spread a thick layer of apple curd, topped with the creme patisserie, and finally rings of freshly-peeled and sliced apples. It went into the oven, baked, and finally was finished off with a sprinkling of sugar and a blast under the grill to get the caramel juices flowing.
The crust is thin and crisp, very crumbly. The filling of curd and creme make a good bridge and lend some substance to the pièce de résistance—the apples. Serve it simply with a scoop of the finest vanilla ice cream or on its own, it’s superb either way.
Tarte Aux Pomme et Sucre
- 150 grams plain flour, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- 75 grams frozen, unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or paste
- 1/2 portion (or to taste) of apple curd (recipe below)
- 1 portion of creme patisserie (recipe below)
- 1 to 2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly into rings (about 2 to 3 mm) (I used Jonagolds)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons caster sugar
Apple Curd & Creme Patisserie
- APPLE CURD, Makes enough for 2 tarts
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 60 grams white, caster sugar
- 2 apples, peeled, cored, cooked to soften and then pureed
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 60 grams frozen butter, cut into about 10 pieces
- CREME PATISSERIE, Makes enough for 1 tart
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon white, caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch/cornflour
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract