I live in Normandy, land of apples and pears, and everything made with them – from Tarte Tatin to Rosemary Apple Tart, to Apple Charlotte, to apples as vegetable, appetizer, seasoning. I’m an expert with apples, and everything I make with them is a point of pride for me. But never have I had such a magical apple tart as the one I just tasted in Peyrenegre, on the Dubois family farm in the Dordogne.
If you know me, you know the Dubois – Danie has been my cooking guru since I first moved to France thirty years ago. She’s a farm cook which is already great enough. But aside from her innate know-how, she has a creative sensibility and a gift for combining the simplest ingredients into the most gorgeous dishes. Last week as she was preparing goose confit she was instructing my daughter Fiona – over her shoulder – on how to make this amazing apple and honey tart.
Like so many things Danie makes, the tart was simple, simple in its brilliance. It went into a nice, hot oven and emerged golden and steaming, almost caramelized. When I bit into it, the pastry shattered, the sugar crackled, the apples and honey were like a warm, fragrant visit to the orchard. It was simply gorgeous.
I made it the minute I returned home. Danie is a good teacher – the tart was just as good as it had been at the farm, confirmed by friends who sampled it and swooned. It is now a part of my permanent, apple-season repertoire. Merci, Danie!
P.S. traditionally, the month of April is a little late for apples and pears, but if you’ve had the winter and spring we have then really, they are right in season. We still have frosty mornings, glittery cold nights, and the apples are staying crisp, juicy, and strong. Pears aren’t tender to eat out of hand, but their flavor is sublime, and they cook down perfectly. So, quick, make this tart before strawberries and cherries come on strong, while it is still legit!
APPLE HONEY TART
TART AUX POMMES ET AU MIEL
2 generous pounds (1kg) apples pears, peeled, cored, cut in chunks
½ vanilla bean
2 to 4 tablespoons water, or as needed
One recipe for Tender Pastry
1 small egg – for the egg glaze
2 tablespoons liquid honey
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
- Place the apples, pears, vanilla bean and 2 tablespoons water in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the fruit is tender through, checking frequently to make sure the fruit isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat, crush the fruit with a potato masher or a fork, and let cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F (210C).
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is just a couple of millimeters thick. Cut a 12-inch (30cm) circle from the pastry and fit it into a 10-1/2 inch (26.25cm) removable bottom tart tin. Cut ½-inch (1.25cm) strips from the remaining pastry.
- Whisk the egg with 1 teaspoon water.
- Drizzle the honey as equally as possible over the pastry. Top with the compote, evening it out across the bottom of the pastry. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg glaze, then proceed to arrange the pastry strips in a lattice fashion over the compote, until you’ve used all the pastry strips. Brush them lightly with the egg glaze, then sprinkle the sugar over the tart.
- Set the tart on a baking sheet and place in the center of the oven to bake until the pastry is deep golden, which will take 35 to 50 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove the tart from the oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes, then remove the edges of the tart tin, and serve the tart.
6 to 8 servings