It’s been a while. A super long while. But that’s okay. I’m now done with my Bachelor’s, which is pretty cool. OH! And, super exciting random story: I went to NYC with a few friends after classes finished (no finals!) and entered a bookstore (ended up there after fleeing a scary homeless person) that has a First Edition Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I have no idea what this bookstore is called. It’s somewhere near Chelsea/Korea Town. How I would have loved to buy it… Any how. The story of the Apple Nougat Tart!
I had my wisdom teeth pulled out last week (I know, I’m super old to have them pulled out), and experienced the wonder of being housebound for the last week or so, save a couple forays into the sunlight to gather some precious sunlight. It took me until Wednesday not to feel like I needed an afternoon nap despite sleeping about 9 hours every night. And Wednesday until I didn’t have to take any Advil. Coincidentally, on Wednesday, I also felt like I needed to do things. Packing, unpacking, reading, writing, knitting…baking. So I pulled out my awesome French Pastry book (the same one: The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer) and set my sights on baking a tart. It’s too hot in my kitchen to even want to attempt a puff pastry or croissant. Hello melted butter.
I decided on a fabulous looking Apple Nougat Tart. I’m already a sucker for a good baked apple anything (pie, crumble, cobbler, struedel, tart, pastry). Wednesday, I made the crust using the recipe for the Pâte Bisée (although I would have liked to try the Sweet Dough pastry but lack of almond flour and the disinterest in going out in 100/+ degree weather…). I’d like to know what dough feels like when the gluten in the flour has been activated. I think I overmixed, but the texture was the same as the one described in the book. I’ll come back to this point later.
The dough rested for a full 24 hours before I worked it again to place into the tart pan.
Tart pan. Oh my. I definitely want a new and different one. Firstly, I cut myself on the metal (it’s actually shocking how many times this has happened). Secondly, my tart pan has ruffled edges. Ruffled edges ARE THE WORST. Impossible to get butter spread lightly and evenly in every ruffle, and supremely difficult to place the dough in the pan so that the dough rests in the corner where the bottom of the pan meets the wall. (This lead to two very sad things that happened today.) I placed the pan in the refrigerator to let the dough rest, and had a minor panic attack when I realized that I hadn’t forked the bottom of the pastry. Easy fix though. I don’t think this contributed to the sad happenings.
Today’s the day! I baked the dough. Cut the apples, cooked the apples, cooled the apples and the crust. I did all the things. The apples behaved kind of strangely and I’ll need to think a little bit about method for this. You cook the apples over the stove to sear the outsides with some sugar and vanilla. My one problem with how this went was that there were so many apples in the pan and I couldn’t keep track of how they were all doing, so some (a lot) got flipped before they should have. This wasn’t a sad thing.
Sad Thing 1: When I pulled the dough out of the oven, the crust had peeled away from the wall of the tart pan. 😦 I definitely didn’t blind bake the crust for long enough, and there’s probably also a cofactor of the butter on the pan or the shape of the pan.
This lead to Sad Thing 2: After baking the full assembly (apples and almonds in the tart), I found that my tart crust had cracked. CRACKED. Because there was no kindly tart pan to support the crust. So upsetting. It’s not perfect.
So, what do I know for the next time around? Try with a flat tart ring. Remember to fork the dough bottom. Blind bake for longer (probably 20 minutes blind bake). Sear apples in smaller batches.
The crust was so good. So much butter, and not actually too much deformation of the heel of the crust (look at that angle!). I got mixed reviews about the apples: some like the light crunch of the apple mixed with the toasty almonds and the snap of the crust; others wanted a softer fruit with lighter flavor like peach or pear. I think peaches or pears would be really yummy in this combination! Personally, I think I could have cooked the apples a bit longer to soften the apples a bit more in the center, and perhaps the crust was a little bit too thick, especially at the heel. Overall, a dessert well liked and one to definitely make again!