December 6, 2009

Tarte aux Pommes au Pain de Mie (Toast-Point Apple Tart)

First of all, before I dive deeper into my rambling again, I'd like to say, "It's weekend FINALLY!" I can do what I love again, hurray! But, it's always amazed me how fast time can pass us by before we even start to take note of it. Whenever I took a quick stroll down my memory lane lately, I kept telling myself: "Geez, you were still a university student in March ... You were still a slow poke enjoying the slow paces of life in a small-town America in July ... Now, you are back in Malaysia and in the work force!" Year 2009 has been an amazing, unforgettable year for me, life-changing in a way ... Goodness! Can you believe we are only less than a month away from 2010!? Yes, it's true. Life's too short to live. So, do as much as you can and of what you like while you're still alive!

And, I've always applied this mentality whilst working my way in the kitchen. There are always recipes awaiting for me to try out from my super huge collection of cookbooks and from the Internet. (I just added another three cookbooks to my collection!) The downside is whenever I've bookmarked one recipe, I'll be distracted by another, oftentimes irrelevant, recipe. In the end, A plan will become Z plan LOL!! Though this scenario happens to me on most of my cooking-and-baking days, I still remember the one for this particular tart vividly even when it'd taken place ages ago while I was still in the States.


I actually bought Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets during my spring break trip at Disney World in Florida just this March. (Hopefully, I can share with you some interesting stuff I saw on the trip in my next post.) One of the first promises I made to myself after making the payment for this book was: "Try tarte aux pommes au pain de mie ... Try tarte aux pommes au pain de mie ..." This was a promise made in March. But, the tart itself came to life only two months after that. LOL! See, there are too many goodies out there!


Ever since I started my life as a novice in the kitchen, I've come to develop an intense passion and interest for French cooking and pastries ... though I've yet to try my hands on the cooking part. For me, French pastries equates to the word "versatility": They can be easy to challenging when preparing; they can be simple to elaborate in details. Yet, the end result never fails me! Ahh ... such a fascination!


Just like when I make French-style tarts, I do have some flops once in a while though my chances of succeeding tend to be higher. Tarte au chocolat, which was also made with another recipe taken from Paris Sweets, is a perfect example of my flops. I'll give it another shot eventually before sharing with you all the recipe. So, just be patient yea? (Pardon me for the lousy photos here ... they were all taken back when I was still shooting with point-and-shoot. But, the camera is NOT poor by any means! I still keep my point-and-shoot for certain purposes.)


Anyhow, back to tarte aux pommes au pain de mie, which means "toast-point apple tart" in English. All I can say this is not-your-average French apple tart! It will give you the ultimate tart-lover sensation! Imagine this with your first bite:

Buttery, nutty & slightly sweet sablé crust ---> lusciously rich, creamy & dreamy taste of crème caramel + vanilla-showered & caramelized apple chunks ---> nutty crunch from walnut pieces + sweet little surprises from raisins ---> sweet, buttery rich and nutty, sugared French toast


Are you salivating? Yes, this was the layering and play on tastes and textures I got from my bites of the toast-point apple tart! Simply loved it!! The only thing I did differently was I used homemade wholemeal bread rather than plain white one for the toast. This didn't affect the texture but only added more fiber to it LOL! Greenspan even said, "Consider the tart a tasty gift from Fantasyland." The tart is a symphony for the ultimate gastromical experience indeed! 

Tarte aux Pommes au Pain de Mie (Toast-Point Apple Tart) 
Makes one 26cm / 10-inch tart 
[Adapted from Lenôtre, in Paris Sweets, by Dorie Greenspan]

For the apples:

900g Golden Delicious apples
*Please stick to Golden Delicious! Granny Smiths and other tart apples are not recommended! We are talking about French apple tart, not American apple pie here!
30g unsalted butter

(A)
25g castor sugar
Pulp of 1/4 vanilla bean
*I used 1/3 tsp pure vanilla extract--NO imitation vanilla please!
  1. Peel, quarter and core the apples; cut each quarter in half, set aside
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the bubbles subside, toss in the apple slices; cook and stir till the apples are lightly browned and almost cooked through.
    Sprinkle over (A), let cook while stirring until sugar caramelizes the apples. (If you're using vanilla extract, leave vanilla out totally for now; only stir in vanilla extract to coat well before dishing the caramelized apples out instead.) Then with a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a plate and let them cool till room temperature; discard the vanilla pulp. Set aside for use later
    The caramelized apples can be prepared up to six hours ahead--but do keep them lightly covered at room temperature.
     
For the toast:

(B)
30g unsalted butter, at room temperature
23g light brown sugar

4 slices firm white/country bread, with crusts removed if they are too hard
*I used homemade wholemeal bread without the crusts removed as mentioned. Greenspan even suggested cinnamon-swirl (raisin) bread works well, too!
  1. Preheat the broiler/grill in your oven, or you can make do with a toaster oven. Meanwhile, beat (B) together till blended
  2. Spread sugar-butter mixture on each side of the bread slices, then place them buttered side up on a nonstick baking sheet and toast the bread under the broiler. Turn the bread over to toast the other side.
    Cut each slice of bread in half on the diagonal and set aside to cool till room temperature
    *Obviously, I didn't adhere to what's described above LOL! My homemade bread loaf wasn't baked in a Pullman loaf tin as I didn't have one at that time ... So, my tart wasn't "toast-point" and looked random. =_=""
     
For the crème caramel: 

315g heavy cream 

(C)
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
65g sugar
Pulp of 1/4 vanilla bean
*I used 1/3 tsp pure vanilla extract--NO imitation vanilla please!
  1. Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk (C) together till thickens and looks slightly pale in a medium bowl
  2. Whisking the egg mixture gently all the while, gradually mix in the hot cream into the eggs--this is called tempering. Skim off bubbles if there is any; rap the bowl of cream-egg mixture against the counter to get rid of excess bubbles. Set aside 
To assemble: 

1 partially baked 10-inch / 26cm pâte sucrée tart shell (recipe here) 

(D)
20g walnut pieces
20g moist, plump golden raisins
*I used the dark-colored variety as that was what I had
  1. Place the parbaked tart shell onto a parchment paper-lined insulated sheet to get ready
    *Actually, I unmolded to cool my parbaked tart shell completely. Upon cooling and ready for further baking, I placed the cooled shell onto my nonstick tart pan again. So, I only further baked it on a "bare" insulated baking sheet.
  2. Line up the caramelized apple slices in parallel rows in the tart shell--have one row support the next and all the slices face the same direction
  3. Once the apples are in place, arrange the toast triangles decoratively among the slices next--with the broad base of the toast against the tart crust and the points up.
    *As you can see, mine doesn't look like what was described again LOL!
  4. Scatter over (D) across the toast layer, then discard the vanilla pulp and pour in one-third to half of the crème caramel--it will spill over if you have it all poured in now!
  5. Carefully slide the baking sheet into the oven to bake the tart on the middle rack at 165C/325F for 10 minutes. The cream should be set enough for you to pour in the remaining till it's reached the rim of the tart at this point--but, you may end up having leftover just like me =P ... (It's a good time to think of crème brûlée hahaha ...!)
  6. Bake for another 40-45 minutes/till a knife inserted in the center comes out clean--the cream should shimmy the way a quiche filling does
  7. Transfer the tart--still on its baking sheet--to a cooling rack and let it rest till just warm, when it's at its best!
    Best serve the tart the day it was made while still warm preferably.

18 comments:

Angie's Recipes said...

How special! Never had anything like that! The pictures look fabulous!

Dodol & Mochi said...

Goodness!! You're super fast LOL!! Aww ... Thanks for the encouraging words!! I'll keep doing better!! =)

Pei-Lin

Chocolate Shavings said...

I'm intrigued by the pain de mie in this tart, sounds delicious!

Anncoo said...

Hi Pei-Lin,
Good morning. These look fantastic and your photographs are delectable :D

Cakebrain said...

That looks gorgeous! I have Greenspan's book too! Unfortunately, I've only made one recipe out of it. So little time, so many recipes to try!

Sonia said...

I also made a normal apple pie today, but your one look really special and nice, yummy yummy.

Sonia said...

I also made a normal apple pie today, but your one look really special and nice, yummy yummy.

Mysweetkitchen said...

Wow! Your photos are indeed delectable. Good looking apple tarts :)

zurin said...

That choc tart looks simply amazing. I'm a sucker for anything chocolate. and that apple tart is something new to me...looks delicious as well! hope u share more frm the book!! :))

Ellie said...

Both tarts look wonderful!! I love the chocolate tart, look so good with the swirl.

Dodol & Mochi said...

@Chocolate Shavings: Thanks a lot!! I personally think this tart would make a good Christmas treat!!

@Anncoo: Thanks for the encouraging words!! Thanks for being supportive all the time!

@Cakebrain: LOL!! Agreed!! There's always an ending list of recipes to try out ... and yet, life's too short for that!!

@Sonia: Thanks buddy! Simplicity often is the most beautiful & the best. I bet it was a rave among the taste testers, eh?

@Mysweetkitchen: Thank you! You've just made my day!

@zurin: Thanks a lot!! I'm a sucker for chocolates ... more into bittersweet chocolates ... Yes, the book is indeed a superb one! Tons of interesting, authentic information on Paris ... Worth the money spent!

@Ellie: Thanks!! Your Ferrero Rocher macarons almost had me killed on the spot out of chocolate overdose LOL!!!

lisa said...

Both tarts look incredible, great job!

Dodol & Mochi said...

Thanks Lisa!! You're just as good, too!!

Pei-Lin

Karine said...

Your tart sounds amazing! thanks for sharing :)

Dodol & Mochi said...

Oh! Thanks for stopping by, Karine!! It's been fun sharing!

Pei-Lin

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What an original tart! Very unique and so tempting! Beautiful shots!

Thanks for passing by!

Cheers,

Rosa

mycookinghut said...

You tart looks good!! You are a real good baker!

Dodol & Mochi said...

Thanks all!! I'm very amazed by all your wonderful culinary creations & skills!!

Pei-Lin

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