It has become a tradition now: shopping in France before going back to UK, after we’ve driven to and from Poland. We’ve done it four times now! It’s about a 16-hour drive but it’s so nice to be able to stop wherever we fancy. Last time, in August, we decided to extend our journey and stopped twice: once in Nuremberg, a lovely and old little town in Germany and once in Prague, the capital of Czech Republic. We had a lovely time, exploring those two cities.
Every time we drive to Poland, we need to take a ferry from the UK to France. And every time, the moment we reach France, I order my boyfriend to take me to the closest supermarket so I can buy a baguette and camembert. My arrived-in-France sandwich, my ode to France, when the car gets all messy with breadcrumbs and smells like cheese for the next few hours. Oh, the flavour of a fresh French baguette with amazingly creamy camembert! It’s impossible to compare French cheese to anything else in the world. It sounds like a cliche but I can assure you: camembert bought in the UK or anywhere else in the world, will never taste as good as the French one. I will never forget the first time I tried a baguette with camembert, it was with my friend Marion, who was showing me around Paris. I fell in love with France instantly, I could drop everything and live there, just for the little pleasures: food, wine, bread. So incredibly good.
On the way back from Poland our shopping list is a bit different though. Before boarding the ferry back to the UK, we always stop in a big supermarket to buy wine (my beloved Touraine Sauvignon) and…Tarte Normande, apple and almond tart, my boyfriend’s French heaven.
Few days ago, I had some spare time in my hands and I thought I’d give it a go: I’ll make tarte aux pommes! It’s not going to be anytime soon for us to drive to Poland, I thought and started to work on my own apple tart. I googled some recipes, checked a French cookbook I have at home and ended up combining a few recipes into one. The effect? It didn’t taste exactly the same as the tart my boyfriend always buys in France, but was similar enough. And so tasty! I think he liked it, judging by the fact that he finished the tart in one day.
Oh well, since it’s not particularly difficult to make, I can bake it for him more often, I suppose. Let me share the recipe with you, too ^^
for the pastry
180g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
4-5 tbsp cold water
for the frangipane
125g butter, room temperature
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1tsp Calvados or Amaretto
2tbsp plain flour
100g ground almonds
4 sweet apples, peeled, cut in quarters and sliced
4tbsp apricot jam
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Start with making the pastry. Mix the flour and salt. Put it on a pastry board. Add butter and cut it into small cubes with a big knife, mixing the butter with flour at the same time. Add egg yolk and water, mix everything together.
2. Knead a smooth dough, it should be soft but not sticky. If it’s too soft, add a little bit more flour. If it’s too dry, add some more water. Wrap ready dough into cling film and put in the fridge for about half an hour.
3. Start preparing the frangipane, almond and egg filling for the tart. Using your electric mixer, cream together butter with caster sugar, until light and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk, one at a time.
4. Add Calvados or Amaretto, flour and almonds. Mix until smooth, set aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease the baking tin with butter. Take the pastry dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Place the rolled pastry in a baking tin, pressing to the bottom and sides. Lightly prick the bottom of your tart with a fork, but be careful not to go all the way through to the tin. Return pastry to the fridge, for another 10-15 minutes.
6. Prepare the apples. Peel them and remove the cores. Cut the apples into quarters and then slice the quarters thinly.
7. Take the pastry out from the fridge and spoon the frangipane onto the pastry in the baking tin. Even it out. Arrange the apples on top, in an overlapping spiral pattern. Each slice should have one edge touching the pastry base. Start arranging the apple slices from the outside, working towards the centre.
8. Place the tart in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees. The tart should be slightly browned. After this time, decrease the temperature to 180 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes.
9. Ten minutes before the planned end of baking, sprinkle the tart with some sugar and – if you like – cinnamon. Return to the oven and finish baking. Take out of the oven when baked and place on a wire rack to cool.
10. Before serving, heat up the apricot jam (you will probably need to add some water to the jam, it might be too thick) and spread it over the tart.
11. Serve the tart at room temperature. Preferably with a nice cup of coffee (the tart is quite sweet, so the coffee will balance the flavours out). Enjoy!