There are a number of fantastic recipes for French Apple Tarts, I particularly like this one as it includes an almond frangipane sponge, ensuring you have a light sponge base for your apples.
I start with a wonderful butter shortcrust pastry as the base of my tarts, it works well as you freeze it in the tart tin and then fill with the frangipane mixture and cook it all together, no need to blind bake your pastry cases.
The shortcrust pastry is a great basis for many tarts, so make up a batch and keep it in the freezer until you need it.
Make the short crust pastry in your food processor, this cuts down on time and also ensures you have a nice short (crumbly) pastry as the butter has no time to melt.
Place the flour, sugar and chopped butter into the food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Crack your egg into a cup and whisk lightly to break up the yolk, then start the processor again and start pouring the egg into the dry mixture, continue mixing until it all comes together as a ball of dough.
As soon as it has all come together, stop the processor and place the mixture/dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, press down and wrap with the plastic and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
Take the shortcrust pastry out of the fridge, sprinkle the table top with flour and roll out the shortcrust pastry, decide which tart tins you are going to use and roll out to the desired thickness, this is dependent on the size of your tart tin, small tins will require thinner pastry, larger tins, thicker pastry.
Using a appropriate sized cutter/bowl/plate, mark out the size of your pastry and then working quickly place the pastry into the tart tin. Put the pastry on top of your tart tin and work it into the edges of the tin, making sure your don’t have any bubbles on the bottom, (if you have a bubble, use the tip of a sharp knife to pierce the pastry and work the air out and then push the pastry back together to close the hole) and if you have any excess around the top, push it down into the sides and then press around to ensure you have a nice consistent thickness, then trim off the excess with your thumb or with a knife by running it across the top of the tin.
Place the tart tins into the freezer and freeze for 15 minutes. This serves two purposes, it allows the pastry to rest and reduces the risk of shrinkage in the oven and you can bake the tart without needed to blind bake the pastry case first.
Weight everything out so it is all ready to start making your frangipane, now you can start making the frangipane mixture. Take a large bowl and add the butter and sugar and whisk until pale and fluffy, if the butter is very cold, put the bowl into the microwave and blast for 10-20 seconds to soften the butter, don’t allow it to melt, just soften.
Add one egg to the butter/sugar mixture, then add half of the almonds, and then repeat with the other egg and remainder of the almonds, it may look like the mixture has curdled, but don’t worry, just add a spoonful of flour and continue mixing, it will all come back together.
Continue mixing and add the remaining flour and the almond essence until it is all combined.
Take the tart tin(s) out of the freezer and place on your table top. Using a spatula, fill the tart tin with the frangipane mixture, just to the top of the pastry tin.
Take your apple and cut it into thin slices, and place on top of the frangipane mixture, pushing in slightly so they are just in the mixture.
Sprinkle the top with some caster sugar and place in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes.
Once they are ready take them out of the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.
For the rich shortcrust pastry:
- 225g Plain flour
- 150g Butter, soft (I use salted butter, if you prefer, use unsalted butter and add 1/2 tsp of salt to the mixture)
- 75g Sugar
- 1 Egg
For the Frangipane filling:
- 100g Unsalted butter
- 100g Caster sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 100g Ground almonds
- 50g Self Raising flour
- 1 teaspoon Almond essence
For the apple topping
- 1 large red apple, thinly sliced
- Caster sugar
Start by making the short crust pastry, place the flour, sugar and chopped butter into the bowl of your food processor. Process the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the egg in a cup, turn on the processor and slowly add to the mixture until it comes together as a ball. Take the dough out of the processor and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
Preheat the oven to preheat oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/ Gas mark 6 and grease your tart tin(s).
Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out to the appropriate thickness, using an appropriate sized cutter/bowl/plate, mark out the size of your pastry and place the pastry into the tart tin, make sure you take the pastry into the edges of the tin. Place the tart tins into the freezer and freeze for 15 minutes.
Now make the almond filling. Beat the softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Beat in one egg and then half of the ground almonds and repeat with the other egg and remaining ground almonds. The mix may curdle but don’t panic add a spoonful of flour and it will correct itself.
Add the flour and almond essence and mix until it is fully combined.
Take the tart tins out of the freezer and spoon enough frangipane mixture into each tart tin, just to the top, use a spatula to smooth the top. Place slices of the apple on top of each tart, pushing then gently into the mixture to ensure they are sticking to the mixture. Sprinkle the top with some caster sugar and put in the oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave for 15-20 mins before eating.