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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Strawberry Tart (with crème patissière)

Last Sunday, all mothers and mothers-to-be celebrated Mother's Day in France. This year, Little One's class, together with their teacher, made a lovely heart-shaped card with a poem and a hanging mirror with crystals all around it. What a lovely surprise gifts! Little One had been so excited about it and couldn't wait for Mother's Day to give it to me. The poem says 'There are millions of bees in hives, there are millions of birds in trees but there's only only 1 mommy.' Although it's not written by her, still I can't help being all weepy about it. Yes, us women and our hormones...

To celebrate this special day, we decided to make a lovely strawberry tart with crème patissière as strawberries season has just began. They are still kind of expensive but heck, why not indulge ourselves?

This is a very simple yet tantalisingly delicious tart to put together. Definitely an all time family favourite.

Strawberry Tart (with crème patissière)
Ingredients

Pâte Sablée (Sweet Shortcrust Pastry)

  • 250 g Plain Flour
  • 125 g Chilled Butter (cut into cubes)
  • 80 g Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • A little water (ice cold)
Directions

Pie Crust

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour and sugar together and put in the diced up butter.
  2. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it is crumbly (like sand). To make sure that all butter are rubbed in and there is no big lumps left, scoop some mixture into your hands and rub it in a rubbing motion.
  3. Make a small well in the middle, crack in the egg and just a little bit of ice cold water. Mix the dough mixture with your hands until it forms a ball of dough. It will be a little bit sticky but the dough should hold together and comes off the bowl easily. Do not work the dough too much.
  4. Wrap the ball of dough with a plastic wrapper and refrigerated it for 1 hour.
  5. After 1 hour: Roll out a clean piece of cloth on the table; sprinkle generously some flour on it.
  6. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and dust the dough lightly with flour before rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. Start rolling at the centre of the dough and work outwards. Roll the dough into a circle and larger than the size of your pie dish.
  7. Put your pie dish face down to the centre of dough. Put your hand underneath the cloth (centre of the dough) and gently flip the dough over.
  8. Without stretching the dough, press the pastry firmly into the pan and trim any excess dough from the edge.
  9. Prick all over the pastry bottom with a fork and put a smaller pie dish on top of it and bake it at 200°C (400°F - gas mark 6) for about 20 minutes or until it is golden brown. However if you don't have a smaller pie dish, cover the top with either baking paper weigh the pastry down with either beans or uncooked rice.
  10. Remove pie crust from the oven and allow it to cool totally.

Making Crème Patissière

  1. While pie crust dough is resting in the fridge or baking, make your crème patissière (French Pastry Cream) and set it aside to cool.
  2. Keep your crème patissière chill in the fridge until it is ready to use.

Assembling Strawberry Tart

  1. Rinse your strawberries and pat dry them with a towel.
  2. Cut them into half and remove the stem. Set them aside.
  3. Place the pie crust on a big plate, spread a layer of crème patissière on it (even it out smoothly).
  4. Carefully place the half strawberries on top of it starting from the outer circle working your way to the centre of the tart.
  5. Serve it immediately or keep it chill in the refrigerator until it is ready to be served.
Strawberry Tart (with crème patissière)
The Verdict

This is one of Pierre's favorite dessert: it is sweet and provided you put it in the fridge before serving, very refreshing as the water and crème stay cool. All those components (crust, crème patissière and of course strawberries) actually can be eaten on their own, but together they also form an amazing combination!

Strawberry Tart (with crème patissière)
Notes

If you have a food processor, to save time, process the dough ingredient with it. And if you can't bake your dough on the same day, wrap the raw dough pasty in a cling film and put it in the refrigerator - it can stay there for 2 or 3 days. It can also be kept frozen for up to 3 months. When required, simply defrost it slowly in the refrigerator.

Strawberries are very perishable, so only purchase them a few days prior to use. Choose those that are firm and have shiny deep red colour with attached green caps. When buying prepackaged strawberries, make sure they are not packed tightly and the container looks clean (no sign of stain or moisture). Before storing it in the refrigerator, check for any strawberries that are mouldy or damaged. Remove them from the the good ones or they will not contaminate others. Store them unwash in its container in the fridge.

Strawberry Tart (with crème patissière)
20 comments on this post.

Caramelized Walnut Apple Pie

There are a few desserts on my blog that I completely conjured in my head like the Chocolate Pear Cake, Coconut-Choc Scrolls, Coconut Chocolate Nut Cookies or the Carrot-Zucchini Cake etc. This new recipe is no exception. It all started with an innocent picture in a magazine of a layered apple slices, and from there it slowly brewed and ballooned into an extremely sinful fantasy... the urges grew stronger and yearning for that biteful of aromatic apples basked in spices, craddled in drooling buttery biscuit pie crust with to-die-for caramel walnut toppings became so real that I could almost savour it.

My attempts to make this tart was thwarted a few times... Somehow the apples always ended up eaten as an every day fruit as we either had other desserts lined up or over indulged during lunch. Finally the occasion came not once but twice. I made my first trial tart with Pierre as my ardent & willing taster. I was a bit nervous as it was my first attempt at making a caramelized walnut topping and frankly, I had no idea how to make one and neither did my mom-in-law. She suggested that maybe I stir the walnuts into the caramel. Well, that didn't went down quite as I expected. In trying to get the walnuts coated with caramel like I had in my head, I ended up with a big lump of un-spreadable caramelized walnut. AAAAHHH!

Anyway, with Pierre's stamp of approval, I made a 2nd one for my in-laws who were coming for lunch the following day. This time around, I got my caramelized walnut topping right. Bless my mother-in-law who, upon seeing me struggling with the apple slices, taught me the correct way of doing it like the professionals. I can't believe everything was going so beautifully well that day. I was so proud of myself. The oven beeped and my tart was all ready for its photo session before being devoured. Unfortunately for us, that day happened to be cloudy all day long. Pierre decided to place the tart on our kitchen window sill to have better lighting with Mom-in-law worrying that Pierre might accidentally drop the tart while taking the pictures. And me, menacing that I'll have his head if he dropped my gorgeous work of art. Phew! All went well and Pierre proudly told his mom that her worries were totally unfounded when suddenly, before our eyes, the tart slipped out of his hand ....SPLAT! 2 floors down, it became part of our garden's decoration and bird food. The horrified look on Pierre's face when the tart took a suicide plunge was PRICELESS! The scene was too hilarious to begin with... any upset thoughts flew out of the window. Pierre kept apologizing to me while Mom-in-law and I couldn't stop laughing. All was not totally lost, mom-in-law managed to salvage a bit of the tart from our garden floor. LOL! No, you can stop your wild imagination right there, there weren't any extra ingredient on our plate.

I'm sharing my beautiful broken tart with Meeta for her Monthly Mingle 'Brunch'.

Caramelized Walnut Apple Tart
Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • 2 cups (200 grams) of graham biscuits/gingersnaps or milk biscuits
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (114 grams) salted butter, melted

Pie Fillings

  • 6 - 8 apples (peeled & cored)
  • brown sugar
  • ground cinnamon & nutmeg
  • walnuts (roughly chopped)

Caramel

  • sugar
  • water
  • about 2 tbsp salted butter
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4 ).
  2. Break up the biscuits into pieces, process it together with sugar until it's crumbly. Add melted butter and pulse it a few times until all is well mixed.
  3. Press a few tablespoonful of the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the springform pan. Turn pan on the side and press about 3 cm up the sides of the springform pan. Cover and refrigerate it while you prepare the filling.
  4. Peel, cut into half and cored the apples. To keep the apples from turning brown, dip them in a bowl of lightly salted water.
  5. Cut the sides off (set aside) and sliced the apples vertically. Hold it between your hands and gently spread it with your thumb.
  6. Place it clockwise on the bottom of the pan. Continue spreading sliced apples from the outer circle to inner circle. Fill the center circle with cut off sides of the apples.
  7. Sprinkle a dash of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and some brown sugar on top of the apple slices.
  8. Place the next round of apple slices anti-clockwise. Repeat step 5 - 7 until all apples are done.
  9. Sprinkle roughly chopped walnuts on top of apple slices (enough to cover the surface), pour caramel sauce over the walnuts.
  10. Bake pie loosely covered with aluminum foil at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for 30 minutes and uncovered for 10 - 15 minutes.

Making the caramel

  1. Prepare this only after you have done up your pie as caramel sauce hardens up quickly when cooled.
  2. Put some sugar and enough water to wet the sugar in a small pot and heat it up on medium heat.
  3. Sugar will dissolves and when it turned into bubbling brown and golden, turn off the heat.
  4. Quickly stir in the salted butter until combined.
Caramelized Walnut Apple Pie
The Verdict

It's so sinfully good and decadent. How can I described it? Every bite is filled with aromatic, spice basked apples with salty sweet crunchy caramelized walnuts together with the butter biscuit crust - awesome combination. Best of all, it's not overly sweet. Pierre said it's the best apple tart I ever made. LOL! This desert also proves that salted butter rules:-)

Caramelized Walnut Apple Pie
Notes

You can replace the biscuit pie crust with pâte brisée (short pastry crust) instead. Either you blind bake the crust or bake it at 210°C for 10 minutes, then lower it to 180°C.

For the caramelized walnut toppings, don't make the same mistake as I did, went walnut crazy and totally filled up every space available on the pie. LOL! Just enough to cover the pie is fine, more than that will be overkill.

The number of layers of apple slices in the pie is up to your discretion. For us, 3 layers high is just the right combination. If you are doing a mix of apples and pears, make sure that the pears aren't too ripe as they have high water content and will turn your pie filling mushy.

Caramelized Walnut Apple Pie
20 comments on this post.

Peach Tart

Peachy! that's exactly how I would describe Little One, in spite of the fact that she is currently having a bad case of flu. One would think a child this sick would sleep through the night. No, not my daughter. She has to be special... waking up every few hours through out the night. I don't know which is scarier - being caught in a nightmare or being woken up from a nightmare with sound of your bedroom door opening, someone calling out 'mommy' sending your heart 'boom boom boom' hurling off your chest. Oh mind you, she wasn't cranky with sleepy eyes, she was in fact very much wide awake like 'ok, I'm done with sleep. Now it's time to get up and play', even talked and joke with me while I accompanied her several times back to bed. Heaven above, give me strength!

Now the other reason for her present state of euphoria : PRESCHOOL! She LOVES it, BREATHES it and EMBRACES it totally. Today, we enter the 3rd week of school and one would think her enthusiasm has worn off... no, no, no. She is excited about it as she did on her 1st day. At the sound of activity in the kitchen in the morning, she would quickly hop out of bed, come down with a keen look on her face: 'mommy, time for school?'. Just last Sunday, she got up early, we were having some quiet time together when suddenly she said: 'Mommy, it's time to dress me up for school or we'll be late..' When I explained to her that there is no school on Sunday, she was crestfallen but immediately cheered up when I told her she has school the next day. I have to say that her enthusiasm for school is quite infectious.

Cute and great as her eagerness might be, it's wearing her parents off. Ever since school started, no ever since she turned 3, she explodes with boundless energy - no matter how little sleep she seems to get. Don't tell me she inherited from her paternal grandfather who needs only 5 hours of sleep. If that's really the case, we are in for a very rough ride. For my sanity sake, I hope it is just a passing phase.

To celebrate the state of Miss Little Peachy, here's a simple recipe taken from Cuisine Vénitienne.:-)

Peach Tart
Ingredients
  • 1 pâte brisée (short crust pastry)
  • 30 g butter or shortbread biscuits, reduced to crumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 peaches - approximately 1 kg (riped, seeded & cut into 6 pcs)
  • 90 - 125 g sugar
Directions

Making the Pastry

  1. Prepare the short crust pastry accordingly till step 3.
  2. Take it out of the fridge, roll it out into rectangle shape of 1.5 cm thickness. Fold the rectangle in 3 (like you are folding a letter).
  3. Roll it again into rectangle shape of same thickness, fold it again like the above. Cover it with plastic and put it back into the fridge for another 30 mins.
  4. This makes the pastry a bit flaky

Making the tart

  1. Preheat oven at 220°C.
  2. Roll out the pastry to a pie dish of 23 cm in diameter. Press the pastry lightly onto the dish and fork the surface.
  3. Sprinkle biscuits crumbs all over the surface, then arrange the sliced peaches on the pastry in whichever pattern you like.
  4. Put bits of butter all over the top and sprinkle the sugar. (more or less depending on how sweet the peaches are).
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190°C - continue to bake for another 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the peaches starts to brown on the top.
  6. Take it out of oven and let it cool at room temperature for about 2 to 3 hours before serving.
The Verdict

Obviously a fruity dessert - if like my other half you are more into creamy, rich desserts this will probably not be your cup of tea. I personally love this tart, the flaky crust, the light sweetness and the peaches whose flavor stays true to the fruit.

peach tart
6 comments on this post.

Blueberry Tart (with crème pâtissère)

The first time I fell in love with the taste of blueberries was my very first waffles with blueberry jam when I was a teenager. It then started in me a blueberry craze - I would buy a slice of cake with blueberry toppings or make a peanut butter-blueberry jam sandwich, blueberry ice-cream etc. I had never seen or tasted the fruit itself (not many growing around Singapore), until I started living in France. While out on a walk in the forest with my in-laws, we came across some blueberries. I picked one up and tasted it - it wasn't anything like I remembered. I was kinda disappointed but all was forgotten when it was presented to me as a dessert.:-)

We were at my in-law's place for the long weekend a week ago, and boy were we in for a real treat of desserts - they picked a bucket full of blueberries in the forest just the day before and made some blueberry yogurt ice-cream with it. As for what was left, we decided to turn it into a blueberry tart.:-D

Blueberry Tart
Ingredients
Directions
  1. Prepare short crust pastry (pâte brisée) in advance if using home-made.
  2. Place the dough onto the pie dish and press the pastry firmly into the pan and trim any excess dough from the edge.
  3. Prick all over the pastry bottom with a fork, put a smaller pie dish on top of it and bake it at 200°C (400°F - gas mark 6) for about 20 minutes or until it is golden brown. If you don't have a smaller pie dish, cover the top with either baking paper or aluminium foil, weigh the pastry down with either beans or uncooked rice.
  4. Remove pie crust from the oven and allow it to cool totally.
  5. While the pie pastry is baking, make your crème pâtissère and set it aside to cool.
  6. Spread the cooled crème pâtissère evenly on the baked pie pastry.
  7. Arrange blueberries evenly on top of it.
  8. Voilà, the tart is ready to be served. If not serving immediately, put the tart in the fridge.
blueberry tart
The Verdict

That pie is great in summer if you put it in the fridge: because of their water content, the cream and blueberries cools down and make for a refreshing dessert. This tart is not too sweet as my in-laws aren't big on sugar, you can turn the knob up by choosing a sweet pastry dough instead and covering the tart with blueberry jam or jelly on top (as many bakeries do) .

Notes

This recipe works perfectly with strawberries or raspberries too.

blueberry tart
8 comments on this post.

Tarte Grand-mère

Hope everyone had a good Valentine's day last Saturday.

This is the first year we were alone on Valentine's day. Woke up to no crying toddler, bliss! My honey got up early at 7 am, went out and bought some almonds croissants for breakfast and served me breakfast in bed.:-) Never mind there weren't any flowers... I got breakfast in bed, that counts a lot as it is. There is always room for improvement, isn't it.;-) For lunch, I made Moules marinère (Mussels cooked in white wine) for us. I wanted to make this chocolate cake for our dessert but he surprised me further with a strawberry cake bought from the local bakery. Now that got him another brownie point, don't you think so ?:-) It was a nice and lazy day ... just waiting for Little One to come home from her week long vacation at her grandparents place. YES! you heard right! We had a toddler-free week on our own. I know it sounds horrible to say this but it was pure 'BLISS!' We had a wonderful couplehood time alone - goodness, we needed that so much. We had fun checking out the local restaurants like we used to and we can *censored* whenever we want to without interruptions (that's a big bonus) and wake up late in the morning as we wish. It took me a day or two to switch off my 'mommy mode'.

One thing I would like to remind my readers is to drink lots of water and well hydrate your body. Why do I bring up this subject suddenly? For the past few days I have been having headaches day and night. I took pain killers and try to sleep it off but nothing worked. At first, I thought I was having migraine since some of the symptoms were quite similar to that. After speaking to my sister and checked online for information, I found out that if one is dehydrated, one can get headaches. So since yesterday, I have been drinking lots of water and true enough, my headache did subside a little ... guess I was too dehydrated to even realize it and my body was trying to tell it to me in its own way. So please drink more water - that headache of yours might not be stress related.

Let's move on to something more appetizing ... today, I would like to introduce you to another traditional French dessert called Tarte Grandmère - a very simple and delicious tart. My mother-in-law told me that my hubby and his younger sister would always say this : 'Oh, we have guests tonight.' whenever they saw her making this tart.:-p As it is very rich in calories, she only makes them whenever they have guests over for lunch or dinner.

Tarte Grand-Mère (Grandmother Tarte)
Ingredients
  • 1 kg apples
  • 80 g dried raisins
  • 2 tbsp rhum
  • 80 g butter
  • 200 g fine sugar
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 roll ready made pie crust (sweet version) or make your own (see below instructions)

Pie Crust - sweet version (La pâte sablée)

  • 250 g Plain Flour
  • 125 g Chilled Butter (cut into cubes)
  • 80 g Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • A little water (ice cold)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 210°C (410°F - gas mark 6/7 ).
  2. Soak the dried raisins in the rhum for about 15 minutes.
  3. Peel the apples and cut them into big slices.
  4. Melt butter in a pan.
  5. Once the butter turns a little brown, add in the apples, sugar and vanilla sugar.
  6. Cook it under medium heat and stir it frequently, keeping an eye on it. Add in the raisins at the last minute. The apples should look a bit like a compote that is lightly caramelised. Let it cool.
  7. Spread the caramelized apple compote on the prepared pie dish.
  8. Decorate the tart with some left of strips of crusty pie pastry. Brush the strips with egg yolk lightly beaten with a bit of milk.
  9. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Pie Crust

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour and sugar together and put in the diced up butter.
  2. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it is crumbly (like sand). To make sure that all butter are rubbed in and there is no big lumps left, scoop some mixture into your hands and rub it in a rubbing motion.
  3. Make a small well in the middle, crack in the egg and just a little bit of ice cold water. Mix the dough mixture with your hands until it forms a ball of dough. It will be a little bit sticky but the dough should hold together and comes off the bowl easily. Do not work the dough too much.
  4. Wrap the ball of dough with a plastic wrapper and refrigerated it for 1 hour.
  5. After 1 hour: Roll out a clean piece of cloth on the table; sprinkle generously some flour on it.
  6. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and dust the dough lightly with flour before rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. Start rolling at the centre of the dough and work outwards. Roll the dough into a circle and larger than the size of your pie dish. Roll the pie pastry as thin as possible. We want it to be crispy when baked.
  7. Put your pie dish face down to the centre of dough. Put your hand underneath the cloth (centre of the dough) and gently flip the dough over.
  8. Without stretching the dough, press the pastry firmly into the pan and trim any excess dough from the edge.
tarte grandmeretarte grandmeretarte grandmeretarte grandmere
The Verdict

It is super delicious... so different than a normal apple pie. Whereas plain apple pies can be somewhat acid (depending on your choice of apples), the addition of caramel and butter makes it a lot easier in the mouth. Using salted butter adds an extra oomph, so if you have some around this is the way to go!

Notes

According to my mother-in-law, the pie pastry dough would taste even better if leave in the fridge overnight. The flavour of the dough is heighten and it is tastier.

tarte grandmeretarte grandmere
9 comments on this post.

Coconut Chocolate Tart

This is a week of strikes - tonight the train is on strike and tomorrow it's the EDF (Electricity) and Paris public transport. Talking about strike, some students of Nantes University are on their 2nd week of strike as well to protest against an education reform. How can students be on strike? That's something that puzzles most foreigners who arrive here, me included. You don't need to go as far as Japan to get "Lost In Translation".

All these strikes bring me to another topic: coconut is my least favourite fruit! (OK, so there's actually no connection whatsoever, but bear with me). I don't like coconut cookies, ice cream or cakes but I love coconut gravies, like curry. Strange isn't it?:-) So why did I make a coconut tart then? Well, one day the cafeteria ran out of sandwiches and all they had were tarts: lemon, chocolate and coconut. I don't like anything that is sourish nor too chocolaty so that left me the coconut tart - no other choice - needed to feed my growling stomach. I was very surprised at how delicious it was. Since then I have been itching to make a coconut tart like the one I have tasted.

Coconut Tart
Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • 250 g plain flour (shifted)
  • 50 g fine sugar
  • 150 g salted butter (cubed)
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water

Tart

  • 1 egg
  • 80 g sugar
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 100 ml liquid cream
  • 80 g grated coconut
Directions

Prepare Pie Crust

  1. In a big bowl, mix the shifted flour and sugar, then add in the butter. Rub the butter and flour mixture with your finger tips until you get a sand like texture. Make a small well, add in 3 tbsp iced cold water. Mix it together to get a dough. Put the dough in a plastic film and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour.
  2. Roll out the dough on a baking paper or cloth (flour the cloth first), this will make it easier to flip the rolled out dough onto the pie dish.
  3. Fork the base and bake it at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for about 15 minutes.
Coconut Chocolate Tart

Prepare the coconut fillings

  1. Beat the egg and sugar in a big bowl.
  2. Mix the liquid cream and coconut milk in a pan and bring it to a boil.
  3. Mix this mixture with the beaten egg/sugar.
  4. Add in the grated coconut.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the baked pie crust.
  6. Bake it at 170°C (325°C - gas mark 3) for about 25 minutes.
  7. Cool it before refrigerating it for a few hours. Serve cold.
The Verdict

I was actually expecting a semi-dry filling, but got surprised to get it moist and creamy, almost like a custard. It's delicious though - I ended up covering the tart with a layer of melted chocolate (one side with black chocolate, the other side with milk-chocolate). The combination of coconut and chocolate was really nice - and reminescent of the Bounty chocolate bar.

Coconut Chocolate TartCoconut Chocolate TartCoconut Chocolate Tart
11 comments on this post.

La Pissaladière

La pissaladière (pissaladiera in Provencal dialect) is a culinary specialty of the region of Nice. As it is some sort of onion pie, it is often considered as a type of pizza, and in fact the traditional Pissaladière is made with bread dough, along with pissalat, a sort of a paste or salted cream made from sardines or salted anchovies which gives this dish its name. As time passed, the pissalat has been replaced by the anchovies cream or filets.

The Pissaladière that I'm going to introduce is a modified version of Michèle's. I haven't forgotten my mushrooms - the recipe will be coming next;-)

La Pissaladière

(Michèle's recipe)

  • 1 shortcrust pastry or pizza dough
  • 4 big onions (sliced)
  • 4 tomatos (thick slices)
  • 1 can of anchovies
  • some olives (sliced, optional)
  • some herbs of Provence (or a mix of savory, marjoram, rosmary, thyme and sage - optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 210°C (410°F - gas mark 6).
  2. Heat up some olive oil in the pan or wok and saute the onions till they are a bit golden brown. Sprinkle some salt on it.
  3. Lay the onions onto the pie dough, spread sliced tomatos on top of the onions. Sprinkle some dried herbs on it, and then some anchovies and sliced olives.
  4. Bake it for about 25 to 30 minutes.
Pissaladière ingredientsPissaladière
Conclusions

Not only it's delicious and flavourful, it's also a simple, easy to fix and healthy meal (unlike your regular pizza, no cheese or sausage in there ). It's an effective solution to get kids to eat veggies.;-)

Notes

It tastes great even without the herbs sprinkled on top of it. The sauté onions just bring out all the delicious flavour.

Pissaladière
27 comments on this post.

Almond Apple Pie

I've been wanting to bake an apple pie with almond fillings for some time, but I couldn't find an apple pie recipe that would fit the bill in any of my books. So I decided to be a bit creative and modify an existing almond pie recipe. I started from a Bakewell tart, which combines an almond filling over a layer of jam. I replaced the jam with slices of apples instead and prayed for the thing to turn right.

What got me motivated to make the pie today was this month's Weekend Cookbook Challenge 19 - Dinner and a DVD. You have to cook something to match one of your favourite movies. In this case guess which one goes with the apple pie... ? Yup, the famous teen comedy American Pie, where the poor and innocent pie suffered a humiliating fate. While my recipe is far from the classical apple pie, I hope it'll satisfy all the apple-pie lovers out there... but it's probably better enjoyed eaten:-p

american pie
Almond Apple Pie

(adapted from Bakewell tart recipe)

Pie crust

  • 125 g plain flour (shifted)
  • 90 g cold butter (cut into cubes)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp ice water

Fillings

  • 90 g butter (soften)
  • 90 g sugar
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 3 drops Almond essence
  • 70 g ground almonds
  • 40 g self raising flour
  • 3 to 4 golden apples (sliced)
Almond apple pie Ingredients
Directions

Pie crust

  1. Preheat the oven at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4). Lightly grease the bottom of the 20 cm diameter pie dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour and sugar together and put in the diced up butter.
  3. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it form chunky crumbs or lumpy.
  4. Make a small well in the middle, add in almost all the ice water. Mix the dough delicately with your hands until it forms a ball of dough. Add more water if the dough is too dry.
  5. Roll out the dough in between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Gently place onto the pie dish and trim off the excess. Refrigerate it for 20 minutes.
  6. Line the pie crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill it with dry beans or rice. Bake it for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool a few minutes and carefully remove pie weights. Put it back in oven (without the weights) and bake it for an additional 7 minutes. The crust should be lightly golden. Cool completely before filling.

Fillings

  1. Peel, cored and cut the apples in slices.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until it is smooth and creamy.
  3. Add in slowly the beaten eggs while continually whisking it and mix in the almond essence.
  4. Using a metal spoon, mix in the ground almonds and the shifted flour.
  5. Spread a layer of apple slices on the bottom of the baked pie shell.
  6. Pour in the batter and smoothen the surface.
  7. Spread another layer of apple slices on top of the batter.
  8. Bake it at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for 35 minutes. The pie should rise and golden brown.
The Verdict

It turned out surprisingly good. While it's a bit short of sugar for Pierre, it was most appreciated by the rest of the family. The texture is moist and soft, and has a nice almond flavor which fits very well with the apples.

Notes

In my hurry to get the pie ready for dinner, I forgot to sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top of the apples as I had originally planned. And I would put more layer of apple slices (if thinly sliced) on the bottom and thicker slices on top.

Almond Apple pieAlmond apple pie
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Tarte Flambée

Today I would like to introduce to you a very simple and delicious traditional dish of Alsace (eastern of France): the tarte flambée (in Alsatian Flammekueche or in German Flammkuchen). It's a sort of «Alsacian pizza», although its history is absolutely not related in any way with the famous Italian treat (except maybe as the inspiration for what is known today as «white pizzas»).

My first meeting with Miss Tarte Flambée was for a dinner at Michèle's place (my mom-in-law) in 2002. I was surprised by the simplicity and easily available materials for dressing up Ms Flambée and my, she is delicious too. Since then, I have met Ms Flambée several times, and I'm sure your friends and family would love her as much as we do.

Here's Michèle's recipe:

Tarte Flambée

Baking: about 20 minutes
Makes: 4 person

Ingredients
  • 500 g bread dough
  • 250 g fromage blanc (cottage cheese or quark)
  • 20 cl crème fraîche (sour cream)
  • 2 big onions (chopped)
  • 220 g thinly sliced bacon (cut in match sticks)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg powder
Directions
  1. Heat oven to about 220°C (425°F - gas mark 7).
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan and cook the onions, stirring over low heat for about 5 minutes. They must be soft and golden but not brown.
  3. In a big bowl, mix fromage blanc, crème fraîche, egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg powder all together. Then mix in the onions and bacon.
  4. Roll out the bread dough until it is slightly smaller than the baking sheet and place it on the sheet.
  5. Spread the onion-bacon mixture over the dough.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tart is lightly brown.
  7. Serve it with salad.
Tarte FlambéeTarte Flambée pizza
Conclusion

It's in no way an high-end super-complicated dish to make, but it's certainly delicious and satisfying. I bought the bread dough directly from my favorite local bakery, and the delicious crust that it became made the experience even more enjoyable:-D

Note

You might want to let the dough rise before flattening it, then let it rise some more. Another version is using only crème fraîche without the eggs. Some people also add cheese or, mushrooms on top, but this is a departure from the original recipe.

Tarte Flambée
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Apricot Tatin - Abricots à la Tatin

What made me bake apricots ? The craving came about a week or two ago when I ate some very delicious ones at my mother-in-law's house (it's now apricot's season). Try as I might, I couldn't get them out of my head. When I read about Domestic Goddess' sugar-high fridays, the idea of cooking them Tatin's style came to me - it's one of the richest kind of fruit pie, right ?

A little historical background

The story of the Tarte Tatin invention is a bit fuzzy, but is known to originate from the Hotel Tatin (run by the two Tatin sisters) in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in 1889. The legend of this upside-down pie claims that it was first made by accident, although reasons for such accident are not very clear. Although the original recipe use apples, variants are now made with other sweet fruits like peaches and pineapples.

Apricot Tatin - Abricot à la Tatin
Ingredients

Fillings

  • Apricots (cut into halves)
  • 110 g butter
  • 110 g sugar

Shortcrust pastry (pâte brisée)

  • 250 g plain Flour
  • 125 g chilled Butter (cut into cubes)
  • 1 egg
  • 5 g salt
  • a bit of water (approx 5 ml or less)
Directions

Pie Crust

Using food processor

  1. Place flour, salt and butter in food processor bowl. Using the pulse action, press button for 30 seconds or until mixture is fine and crumbly.
  2. Add egg and water; process a further 20 seconds until mixture forms a dough.
  3. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrapper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll out a clean piece of cloth on the table; sprinkle some flour on it.
  5. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and dust the dough lightly with flour before rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. Start rolling at the centre of the dough and work outwards. Roll the dough into a circle and slightly larger than the size of your pie dish.

Using hands

  1. Put in the flour, salt and diced up butter together in a large bowl.
  2. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it is crumbly (like sand). To make sure that all butter are rubbed in and there is no big lumps left, scoop some mixture into your hands and rub it in a rubbing motion.
  3. Make a small well in the middle, crack in the egg and pour in the water. Mix the dough mixture with your hands until it forms a ball of dough. The dough should hold together and comes off the bowl easily. Do not work the dough too much.
  4. Wrap the ball of dough with a plastic wrapper and refrigerated it for 30 minutes.
  5. Follow last steps 4 & 5 of above instructions.

Fillings

  1. Preheat oven at 200°C (400°F - gas mark 6).
  2. Put butter and sugar in a small pan/pot and heat it up till it is caramelized. Remove from heat and pour it into a round baking dish.
  3. Arrange the apricots with the half side facing down on the caramelized liquid, make sure they are fit tightly next to each other.
  4. Bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  5. Take it out of oven and put the crust on top of the apricot and tuck the corners in.
  6. Bake it for approximately another 30 minutes or less. Let the tart cool for a few minutes before turning over on a pie plate. Do not let it cool totally in the baking dish or else it will get stuck to it.
  7. Serve it warm with a scoop of ice-cream or crème fraîche.
Apricot tatin abricots
The Verdict

Without too much surprise, the apricots make the tart a bit acid, but I kinda like it. The taste grows on you - the full apricot flavour in each bite with a mixture of sweet and acid taste at the same time. To me the pie was as good with ice-cream as on its own. Pierre (who has a sweet tooth) feels that it was nice but it was a bit too acid to his taste, and the ice cream brought a welcome balance. We both felt that another 30 g sugar to the caramel would have made this tart even better, and I could bake it again with pâte sablée instead and maybe try some cinnamon on top (or is that the bottom ?;-)).

I have never made this tart before so I had my doubts on how it would turn out. When I took it out of the oven, the apricots had lost a lot of juice and I thought all this water would ruin the crust and create a disaster. Surprisingly when flipped the baked tart over, it turned out beautifully.

Note

Please add another 30 g of sugar to the caramel base. You can also make the caramel with water instead of butter. The pie would look prettier if you put the bottom side of the apricot on the caramel. There are 2 methods for baking it, one in two steps as I mentioned above and the other method is to simply put the pie crust on top of the apricot immediately and bake them at the same time for about 30 minutes at 200°C.

Abricot tatin apricot pieApricot tart tarte abricot
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