Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Apple Tart, Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin is a great chef, whom I respect very much. I always enjoy his PBS show and still learn a few tips from the show almost every time I watch, even though I have cooked professionally with great chefs for many years. His classic training, impeccable work experiences, and extensive knowledge of food/culture/history make him one of the truly great chefs of today. His recipes are great for home cooks as well as pros, expend little on frills, but always bring good results and are a joy to cook. I own many of his books and videos and never get tired of reading them again. In fact, his books and videos are important references for my work.

This simple, yet delicious recipe is from his mother's unique dough making.

Beverage to accompany:  apple cider, black tea (e.g., Earl Grey), or a semi-sweet or sweet Madeira or Marsala.

Maman's Apple Tart (makes one tart, 6-8 servings)
Adapted from Jacques Pepin's biography, The Apprentice, My Life in the Kitchen.

For dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, broken into a small bowl and beaten with fork
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons hot milk

For filling:
4 large golden delicious apples (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, broken into pieces

For the Dough: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Put all the dough ingredients except the hot milk into a mixing bowl. Stir well with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to combine. Add the hot milk, and stir until well mixed. Do not overwork. The dough will be very soft. Place it in a 9-inch pie plate (or fluted metal quiche pan), and, using your fingers and a little flour to keep them from sticking, press dough into the pan until it covers the bottom and sides.

For the Filling: Peel, core and halve the apples. Cut each half into 1 1/2-inch wedges. Arrange the wedges on the dough like the spokes of a wheel. Sprinkle with the sugar, and top with the butter pieces.

Bake the tart in the middle of the oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Serve it lukewarm.

Note:  His original recipe states to preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bake for about 1 hour. I reduced both temperature and time on the recipe. My house oven may be stronger than his. Also I did not use vegetable shortening, but a total of 6-tablespoons butter for above photograph. I like to serve this apple tart with a little sweetened whipped cream.

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