Introduction to Apple Tart

by Min Merrell
how to make an apple tart

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.

how to make apple tart

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. 



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