Inspired by my Paris trip, I set out to create a simple but very fine tart. A “tarte fine” has a flaky pastry base and can be topped with pretty much any firm fruit (although I wouldn’t go for grapes, per se). Some pastry chefs partner the fruit with crême patissière for extra creaminess. Because I felt really eager to make these, I chose an apple topping – for some reason, supermarkets only sell nectarines, peaches and pears in their stone-hard, unripe form. That means that I would have to wait a week, if not longer, for them to ripen. No such patience here.. Apples it is!
Now you can be very creative with this recipe. Instead of vanilla, you could flavor with cinnamon. Or you could go for another fruit altogether, if using pitted fruits, remove pit and cut into wedges to go on top of the tart (sliced side face up). Great for when you have an abundance of fruit in your garden in the summer – I never know where I should leave all of it. Experiment, by all means!
Recipe Apple and Vanilla Tartes Fines
Yields: 9 servings
Tools: pastry brush, 10 cm/3.9 inch round fluted pastry cutter, sieve
Rough Puff Pastry:
250 gr strong white flour
1 teaspoon fine (sea) salt
250 gr cold unsalted butter, diced
150 ml ice cold water
2 large apples (or 3 small)
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons apricot jam
1. For the pastry, rub the salt into the flour until evenly distributed. Add the diced butter, coat the butter in the flour mixture. Add 100 ml of ice cold water, use a fork or spatula to bring the dough together. Add more water if necessary (1 tablespoon at a time). The dough should be firm, and the chunks of butter should still be clearly visible (see image below). Shape dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
2. Once chilled, turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the ball into a rectangle, then roll out into one direction, until you have a 20x50cm rectangle. If the dough starts sticking to the surface, flour extra. The dough should have a marbled effect (see picture below). Keep the edges of the rectangle straight. Fold the top third down the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn, re-flour your working surface and roll and fold again as before. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. While the dough is resting in the fridge, core your apples, quarter and slice them into thin wedges. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning if you’re making these ahead.
4. Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
5. Once chilled, roll the pastry out into a 35x35cm square. Cut out 9 circles using your fluted cutter. You can stack the remaining pastry, flatten it and return to the fridge to use at another moment (don’t roll into a ball or you will lose the layers).
6. Place the pastry circles on the lined baking sheet and arrange the apple slices evenly on top. Sprinkle the vanilla sugar on the apples. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
7. Heat the apricot jam with one tablespoon of water in a small, heavy botttomed pan on low heat. Once jam has become more liquid, pass through a sieve to filter the chunks out.
8. Once pastries have baked, place them on a wire rack and brush with the apricot jam while still warm. Leave to cool, or eat while still warm. Great with some vanilla ice cream!