Apple Tart 'Maman Blanc'
Recipe from Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc.
In my book, Maman Blanc makes the best apple tart. It takes its roots from simplicity. The secret lies in choosing the right apple, with a great flavour and the right balance of acidity and sweetness. The varieties I have suggested to use here will fluff up and caramelise beautifully, filling your kitchen with an enticing apple aroma. I sometimes pour a light custard into the tart towards the end of the cooking - it is simply divine, so do try it (see variations). I also make this tart using other fruits, notably plums, apricots and cherries.
Preparation: 20 mins, plus 45 mins resting.
Cooking: 30 mins.
Special equipment: 18cm tart ring, baking stone (optional), wooden peel (optional).
|For the shortcrust pastry|
|100g||Unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature (*1)|
|1 pinch||Sea salt|
|1||Organic/free-range medium egg|
|1 tbsp||Cold water|
|For the apple filling and glaze|
|3||Dessert apples, such as Cox’s Orange Pippin, Worcester, Egremont Russet, Braeburn|
|1½ tsp||Lemon juice|
|1 tsp||icing sugar, for dusting|
To make the shortcrust pastry
Put the flour, butter and salt into a large bowl and rub together delicately using your fingertips until the mixture reaches a sandy texture (*1). Create a well in the centre and add the egg and water. With your fingertips, in little concentric circles, work the liquid ingredients (*2) into the flour and butter mixture; then at the last moment when the eggs have been absorbed, bring the dough together and press to form a ball (*3). Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently with the palms of your hands for 10 seconds until you have a homogeneous dough; do not overwork it.
Break off 20–30g dough, wrap separately and chill. Wrap the remaining dough in cling film and flatten it to about a 2cm thickness. Leave to rest in the fridge for 20–30 minutes (*4).
To roll out the dough
Place the rested dough in the middle of a large sheet of cling film, about 40cm square, and cover with another sheet of cling film, of similar dimensions.
Roll out the dough to a circle, 2–3mm thick (*5).
To line the tart ring
Place the tart ring on a wooden peel or flat tray lined with greaseproof paper. Lift off the top layer of cling film from the pastry and discard, then lift the dough by the lower cling film and invert it into the tart ring, removing the cling film. Press the dough onto the base and inside of the ring with the little ball of dough, ensuring that the pastry is neatly moulded into the shape of the ring.
Trim the edge of the pastry by rolling a rolling pin over the top of the ring.
Now, push the pastry gently up by pressing between your index finger and thumb all around the edge of the tart ring, to raise the edge 2mm above the ring.
With a fork, prick the bottom of the pastry case (*6). Place in the fridge for about 20 minutes to relax the pastry.
To prepare for baking
Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7. Place a baking stone (*7) or baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven.
To assemble the tart
Peel and core the apples and cut each one into 10 segments. Lay the apple segments closely together and overlapping in a circle in the base of the tart case. In a small pan, melt the butter and sugar, then remove from the heat and mix in the lemon juice and Calvados, if using. Brush this mixture over the apple slices and dust liberally with icing sugar.
To bake the tart
Using the peel or board, slide the tart directly onto the preheated baking stone or tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 200°C/Gas 6 and bake for a further 20 minutes until the pastry is light golden
in colour and the apples are beautifully caramelised. Leave the tart to stand for about 30 minutes before serving, until barely warm. To de-mould, remove the ring and slide the tart onto a large, flat plate.
Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Recipe from Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc, published by Bloomsbury.
Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2011.
Photograph © David Griffin 2014.