The per­fect ... French ap­ple tart

The Guardian - Feast - - Feast - Felic­ity Cloake

Un­like that other great French ap­ple tart, the tatin, which must be served hot from the oven, this patis­serie clas­sic can be made well in ad­vance: ideal for im­press­ing guests, or just al­low­ing you to drink a lit­tle too much over Sun­day lunch and still en­joy dessert. Just like all the best show­stop­per dishes, it is sur­pris­ingly easy to ex­e­cute.

Not that you need to tell any­one that. Peel and core two-fifths of the ap­ples, sweat them down gen­tly, then puree to make the base of the fill­ing I’m wary of get­ting too pre­scrip­tive here, be­cause, as Bruno Lou­bet notes in his book Mange Tout, we grow a huge and fab­u­lous ar­ray of ap­ples in this coun­try, very few of which ever make it into shops, so I echo his plea “to try dif­fer­ent Bri­tish va­ri­eties … and sup­port the great Bri­tish ap­ple”. Go for wellflavoured and fairly dry eat­ing va­ri­eties – you don’t even need to peel them for the top­ping, un­less you’re ei­ther French or par­tic­u­larly fussy, and I wouldn’t cut them quite as thinly as most recipes rec­om­mend, oth­er­wise they’ll dry out in the oven.

Lou­bet and Bre­ton baker Richard Roll out the pas­try to 5mm thick, then use to line a deep tart tin, prick all over with a fork and re­frig­er­ate Bertinet use puff pas­try, Pierre Koff­mann and the Mas­ter Chefs of France use rich, sweet pâte su­crée, while Michel Roux calls for some­thing he calls “flan pas­try”, which con­tains slightly less but­ter than a clas­sic short­crust, and adds wa­ter rather than milk for a crisper fin­ish. The puff ver­sions are the least popular with my testers: deemed to be too dry with this rather dry fruit, while the en­riched short­crusts are tricky to work with. Roux’s sturdy pas­try feels like the prac­ti­cal choice.

The most in­ter­est­ing vari­a­tion be­tween recipes oc­curs be­tween th­ese two lay­ers. For Roux, it’s a sharp and very but­tery ap­ple puree;

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