I hope you all had an enjoyable New Year's Eve. John and I got together with eight good friends for a "progressive" dinner. We started with appetizers at one couple's home, dinner at another's, and then at our house, we ended the evening with dessert and watching the ball drop. Though it was a brutally cold night, we were troopers and ventured out to enjoy wonderful food and good company.
For dessert, we served sparkling apple cider along with fresh berries, cookies, ice cream, and a decadent chocolate mousse that John made. I contributed an apple tart that is always a favorite. It's from chef Jacques Pépin's delightful memoir, The Apprentice, My Life in the Kitchen. A few years back I selected this book for my book group to read. We all chose a recipe from the book to prepare and had a feast while discussing the memoir. This recipe, called "Maman's Apple Tart" is from Jacques' mother.
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, broken into a small bowl and beaten with a fork
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons hot milk
4 large Golden Delicious apples (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, broken into pieces
For the dough:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put all the dough ingredients except the hot milk into a bowl. Stir well with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to combine. Add the hot milk, and stir until well mixed. Do not overwork. The dough will be very soft. Place it in a 9-inch pie plate (I use a fluted metal quiche pan) and, using your fingers and a little extra flour to keep them from sticking, press the dough into the pan until it covers the bottom and the sides.
For the filling:
Peel, core, and halve the apples. Cut each half into wedges. Arrange the wedges on the dough like the spokes of a wheel. Sprinkle with the sugar, and top with the butter, broken into pieces.
Bake the tart for approximately one hour, or until the crust is golden. (In my oven, it takes just under 45 minutes.) Serve lukewarm.
In the book, Mr. Pépin states, "Maman's method of making dough breaks all the rules that I learned professionally. Using hot milk? Stirring the dough with a spoon? Smearing it into the pie plate? Yet it comes out tender, crumbly, and light in texture, with a delicate taste."
This tart really is simple and delicious. I hope you'll give it a try.