Now that Julia Child is in the movies, here is R.B.’s apple tart. It’ll make you feel like a French pastry chef. And it’s really not that hard.
Once in a while R.B. brings up the results of a personality test he took years ago that suggested “pastry chef” as a suitable career option for a guy like him. Then he starts chattering about how much he wants to make an apple pie. I believe this recurring dialog happens just about every fall apple season.
So, to facilitate R.B.’s ever-expanding skill set, we made a beautiful apple tart. This apple tart, a classic from Julia Child’s book The Way To Cook, is my favorite recipe for its wow factor. I got her brand new book back in 1989 while helping with the demonstration kitchen at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. Julia Child was there as part of her promotional book tour, and of course, she signed mine “Bon Appétit, Mindy!”
Until this book, it never occurred to me that I could make pastry beyond a regular old pie. It was Julia who got me using the food processor for butter pastry. The food processor, in mere seconds, makes unbelievably flaky crust by dispersing the cold fat so nicely throughout the flour.
Julia was also big on apple desserts and the merits of Golden Delicious apples. They’re easy to find, have a sweet-tart flavor, and nicely keep their shape when baked. With all the confusion between eating and cooking apple varieties, I can, at least, always remember that this one works for pie.
Lastly, I learned the importance of a shiny finishing glaze for making pastry look French bake-shop fancy. Julia made hers by boiling down strained apricot preserves; I’ve simplified the recipe over the years by using a clear jelly-like apple or red currant. Brush it on a cooked tart and start gloating! Here it is 19 years later.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ cup ice water
- About ¼ cup sugar, maybe a little more
- 2 to 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 cup apple or red currant jelly
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons rum or bourbon
Put the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter pieces.
Pulse about 10 times, just until the flour and butter are evenly combined and crumbly.
Add the ice water and pulse a few more times. If the dough seems too dry, add a few more drops of water. Gather the dough into a ball.
Wrap and refrigerate for an hour or up to a couple of days.
Roll out the dough onto a floured pastry cloth (get one, it makes life much easier) until about 1/8 to ¼-inch thick.
Trim the pastry into a large rectangle about 16-inches by 6-inches. Place the pastry on a large baking sheet. (Be sure your rectangle fits onto your baking sheet).
Use a sharp knife to notch out a ½-inch square in each corner.
Brush the edges lightly with water. Fold up the ½-inch edge on each side. Use fork tines to seal the edges to the tart bottom.
Prick holes in the bottom of the tart with a fork.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the pastry.
Arrange two rows of overlapping apple slices on the pastry. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake the tart at 375° F. for about 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Make the glaze while the tart is baking. Combine the jelly, sugar, and rum in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened and sticky—225 to 230° F on a candy thermometer. Allow to cool.
Brush the warm tart lightly with the glaze.
Store the glaze in a covered container in the refrigerator. Warm it up before using it the next time. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.
Bake the pastry scraps brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar!