Before the Christmas baking season keeps a tight grip on me, I like to bake a few apple pies and cakes and tarts. This is a tradition I try to uphold every November. Being faithful to my personal autumn apple baking frenzy, I ususally bake a few old-time favorites such my Dutch Boterkoek with Autumn Apples (here) or my fancy Autumnal Cake with Vanilla Custard and Marzipan stuffed Apples (here). This year I was looking for a new recipe or a previously unknown twist to an old family favorite.
This past week the first Christmas markets have opened their doors around here. We even attended the first Christmas event at our kids´ school, and the smell of spices, almonds and baked goods reminded me, yet again, that I should be starting my Christmas baking soon – but not quite yet. There are still many wonderful varities of late autumn apples to be found at the farmer`s markets and there is still time to bake apple desserts.
I wanted to bake something a bit different looking for a special someone the other day, a true apple lover that is, so a Late Autumn Apple Tart with Fragipane came to my mind, a tart that combines a buttery crisp pastry with a sweet almond cream and tart apples - simply wonderful and hard to beat.
I took a look at the apple design on the fabric I had bought to dress the dessert table and remembered the apple-shaped cookie cutter I bought in the other day, and decided I wanted apple cut-outs on my tart. I love the way it turned out and have baked it three times so far - not bad for this busy time of year.
And if you are really hard-pressed for time, and who isn´t these days, you can even "cheat" with a pre-bought good-quality pastry case and store-bought pastry. I was told that this tart would make a beautiful addition to a Thanksgiving dinner, perfect for those who don't care for Pumpkin Pie too much.
Late Autumn Apple Tart with Fragipane
(Author: The Kitchen Lioness)
For the Pastry
- 350g (12oz) AP (plain) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 150g (6oz) cold butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 50g (2oz) caster sugar
- 2 eggs (M), free range (or organic if possible), beaten
For the Fragipane Filling
- 75g (3oz) butter, softened
- 75g (3oz) superfine (caster) sugar
- 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla sugar
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 eggs (M), free range or organic (if possible), beaten
- 75g (3oz) ground natural almonds (toast the almonds prior to grinding them to enhance their sweet almond flavor)
- ½ tsp Ceylon cinnamon (optional)
- 3 to 4 baking apples (depending on their size)
- some freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 egg (M), free-range or organic (if possible), beaten
For the Glaze
- a few tbsps of apple jelly (or use strained apricot jam instead)
- some chopped almonds
- You will need a 28cm (11in) round, loose-bottomed fluted tart pan, 3 to 4cm (1 to 1.5in) deep.
- First make the pastry: either by mixing the flour and butter in a food processor or by hand – rubbing the flour and butter together with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar and mix in briefly, then add the eggs and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.
- Mix until the pastry just holds together.
- Divide the pastry in two. Form discs. Wrap in food wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for a good thirty minutes.
- Butter your tart/quiche pan and line the bottom with a round of baking parchment. Butter the parchment.
- After the pastry has chilled, take one disc out of the refrigerator, roll the pastry out on a floured surface as thinly as possible,and use to line the tart pan.
- Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork.
- Place in the refrigerator while preparaing the fragipane fillling.
- To make the frangipane filling: place the butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt in the food processor and whizz until creamy, blend in the eggs, then mix in the ground almonds and cinnamon, if using. NOTE: alternatively, beat together with a wooden spoon if making by hand.
- To prepare the apples: peel the apples, core and slice thinly. Place in a medium bowl and mix with a few drops of fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
- Take the pastry-lined tart pan out of the refrigerator.
- Spoon the frangipane mixture into the pastry shell, spreading it evenly.
- Then arrange the apple slices on top of the fragipane.
- Take the remaining pastry disc out of the refrigerator
- Roll the pastry out on the floured surface as thinly as possible, and using your cookie cutter, make some cut-outs- enough to cover your base.
- Take the beaten egg and dip the edges of your cut-outs into the egg and arange the cut-outs on top of your apple slices.
- Place the tart in the refrigerator while your oven pre-heats.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and place a heavy baking sheet inside to heat up.
- Place the tart pan on the hot baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes until the pastry is crisp and the tart is golden brown.
- Take the tart out of the oven and place on a cooling rack for a good 15 minutes.
- To finish, heat up a bit of apple jelly and brush the top of the warm tart with it. Decorate the border of the tart with chopped almonds.
- Remove the tart from the pan and transfer to a serving plate.
This beautiful apple tart tastes as good as it looks. I used seasonal apples in my recipe. However, firm but ripe pears can be used instead – if you choose to use pears in this recipe, do not forget to use a pear-shaped cookie cutter (if you are so lucky to own one) or just about any other shape you have on hand.
And if almonds are not your thing, you could easily sub ground and chopped hazelnuts in this recipe.
To serve, I would not produce this straight from the oven. Rather, either enjoy it while just warm, or at room temperature, as is or with a generous dollop of softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Simple, but delicious and just a little bit classy. Perfect for that mid-November baking session.