Friday, November 25, 2011

Tarte aux yum

When I saw those Calville Blancs at Farmers Market the day before Thanksgiving, I knew I had to bake a real tarte aux pommes.

My first tarte aux pommes
Despite the black bits this was a delicious holiday desert, and what really made it so were the apples.

Calville Blanc d'Hiver is the classic French pastry apple. Not especially good for eating, Calville comes alive baked on a tart, with great balanced apple flavors including a hint of lemon. Its slices hold their shape and texture wonderfully.

There are many recipes for this tart. I made a pate sucree crust, more like a big sugar cookie than a flakey pie crust. That's traditional, and real pastry, but I think these apples would shine on anything.

I also spread some wonderful apple-peach butter, a gift from a friend, beneath the apple slices before cooking. Thanks, Laura! You can do this with cream or a custard or frangipani or nothing, but note there were two great apples in this tart, Calville and the Gravensteins used in the butter.

Finally, I glazed the tart with a little maple syrup.

Okay, this is not the Cooking Channel. Since for some reason I did not make a picture-perfect French tarte aux pommes with pate sucree crust on my very first try, I will not burden you with a recipe. There are many online.

(My only cooking tip: You need less ice water than you think. Maybe even none: work the egg yolk in really well with your fingers.)

But here are my ingredients:

Tarte fixin's. Clockwise from far right: flour, egg yolk, sweet butter, Maple syrup (in the teaspoon behind the butter), Gravenstein-peach butter, sugar, Calville Blancs.
This really was a delicious desert, thanks to these ingredients and especially the fruit.

I taste all apples as if they were grown to be eaten out of hand, which is lamentably inadequate for the cooking apples. A systematic kitchen test of all the cooking varieties is beyond me, but I am glad to have given Calville a chance to shine.

For a more foolproof apple dish (suitable for brunch or desert), see my apple pancake.

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