MOM’S FAVORITE APPLE TART — EASY AND GOOD
My mother grew up in Normandy, France. She was full of memories of life near Étretat. But her stories would really come to life when she reminisced about going to the family farm in Saint-Martin-du-Manoir. Their farm was adjacent to the properties of family friends so whenever they were there they’d gather as one big happy family. For my mother, who was an only child, this was heaven! Those memories lasted a lifetime.
In a previous post I told the story of a family tray from the farm in Saint-Martin-du-Manoir.
I look down at a lacquered oval tray sitting on my mother’s desk. The flowers in the design are slightly faded. It holds a decanter and a glass ready to be used if needed. Part of what I love about my mother’s home is that the objects she surrounds herself with have a life: there’s no question from the way she places them that they have a history and their value is indisputable.
She enters the room and notices my interest in the tray. She’s always ready to tell a story if it’s pertinent. She smiles and starts, “It belonged to my grandmother. Every day at 11 a.m., Alfred—the gardener, chauffeur, and valet de chambre (he also milked the cows)—would bring the tray to wherever she was with a glass of sherry and biscuits to give her energy.” I looked at my mother in amazement. The images came to life as she told the story. “When I look at the tray,” she continued, “it reminds me of Grandmère and Alfred. It was always this tray; there were other trays, but at 11 a.m. it was always this tray.”
The object sitting there had memories, a life that no longer existed yet it still comforted and told stories of the past if you knew enough to ask.
Last Sunday, Martha Stewart was on the CBS Sunday Morning Show. She described an apple tart made with an applesauce base. It reminded me of my mother’s classic apple pie also made with a base of applesauce, using Calvados, the apple brandy made only in Normandy that is famous for its flavor. It is topped with a layer of apples and then caramelized. It was her signature pie and its simplicity made it delightful.
Monique’s Apple Tart
Simple pastry dough (Le Kitchen Cookbook: a Workbook page 321)
Find the recipe at this LINK
2½ pounds tart apples
2 large apples for pie
¾ cups sugar
1¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Calvados
1 9-10-inch fluted pie pan with removable bottom
For the Applesauce:
- Core the apples, peeling is optional, and cut into chunks.
- Place apples into a saucepan add ½ cup sugar, 1¼ water, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the apples have disintegrated.
- Using an immersion blender, blend until the apples have become a sauce.
- Blend the Calvados into the applesauce. Set aside.
For the pie
Preheat oven to 425°
Place the crust into the pan, pressing down all around and cut off any excess dough at the top with a knife.
To blind bake:
- Using a fork, pierce the bottom all over. Cover with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with rice or beans to prevent the dough from bubbling up.
- Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake in lower third of the preheated oven.
- Bake about 20 to 35 minutes until the top begins to brown.
- Remove from oven and remove the foil and weights.
- Place back in the oven for 5 minutes to cook the bottom.
- Let the pie crust cool to room temperature.
For the pie:
Preheat oven 375°
- Add the applesauce evenly on the bottom of the pie.
- Place the sliced apples evenly on top of the applesauce covering the entire pie.
- Sprinkle with ¼ cup of sugar and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of Calvados.
- Place into the upper third of the oven and bake 15 minutes.
- You want the top to start to caramelize.
- Remove from the oven and serve.
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