French (Danger) Apple Cake

While TD and I have worked hard to tame Via Corona’s front and side yards, most of the remaining lot has been left to itself.  We aren’t negligent.  The geography of our neighborhood can best be described as canyony (technical term), so many homeowners in the area opt to allow their steeply sloping lots to grow wild.  With the exception of about a four-foot lip right at the house’s edge, our backyard is one giant slip and slide.

The picture above is from the actual real estate listing–before we got our hands on her.

It wasn’t until we closed escrow that we discovered some previous owner had long ago planted a couple of apple trees right off the deck.

In each of the three falls we’ve lived in Via Corona, the trees (more like bushes because of the slope) have born tons of apples.  The first couple of years we left the apples alone because I was afraid of what the construction run-off might have done to the fruit (I have no basis for this fear).

This year however, I got brave.  After several weeks of peering over the side of the deck, I picked my way down the slope and had my own little basic girl fall experience.

In less than 10 minutes, I picked about as many pounds of apples.  We have no idea what kind they are–though they resemble Granny Smith in taste and consistency.

Because of the slope and potential for wild animal encounters (we’re pretty sure the raccoons, skunks and opossums are running an Air BNB under the deck), we’re calling them danger apples.

What do you do with 10 pounds of apples?  I started with this fruit-dense custardy apple cake.

The recipe uses the very clever technique of briefly microwaving the cut apples and then allowing them to cool before folding them into the batter.  This helps move things along cooking wise and helps to keep the cheesecake-like interior..  

We took giant wedges of these with us to see Gary Clark Jr. at the Hollywood Bowl.  And now, I’m back to working up my courage to go in for another 10-20 pounds.

French (Danger) Apple Cake

Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Baking


  • 1 1/2 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wages and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
  • 1 TBS Calvados (I used Tuaca because that’s what I had)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 C plus 2 TBS (5 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 C (7 ounces) plus 1 TBS granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C grapeseed oil
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • Confectioner’s sugar


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat over to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable spray.  Place prepared pan on aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Place cut apples in pie plate, cover and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent (about 3 minutes).
  4. Toss apples with brandy and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk 1 C flour, 1 C granulated sugar and salt together in a bowl.
  6. Whisk oil, milk, egg and vanilla into a second bowl until smooth.  Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
  7. Transfer 1 C batter to separate bowl and set aside.
  8. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine.  Gently fold-in apples with a spatula. Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Using an off-set spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing apples to create an even compact layer and smooth surface.
  9. Whisk remaining 2 TBS flour into reserved batter.  Pour over batter in pan, spread batter evenly over cake. Sprinkle remaining 1 TBS of sugar evenly over cake.
  10. Bake until center of cake is set, a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and the top is golden brown (about 1 hour, 15 minutes).  Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Run thin knife around pan to loosen cake, then let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.  Remove sides of pan.  Dust cake lightly with confectioner’s sugar and cut into wedges.  Serve

Tarte Tatin

Tarte tatin is my favorite.  Hands down, no more to say, drop the mike, walk off stage and leave the building favorite.

The first time I had tarte tatin was from The Ivy.  A good friend  worked there after college and introduced me to the deeply flavored, almost burnt caramel and robust apple of this rustic french dish.  At The Ivy, it’s served hot and when that scoop of vanilla ice cream hits it, it turns into the best thing you will ever put into your mouth.

There is quite a bit of mythology around the origins of tarte tatin.  The stories agree that it was created at the Hotel Tatin run by two sisters in the picturesque town of Lamotte-Beuvron in central France.  From there things get a little hazy but my favorite version is that they were making an apple tarte, forgot to make the crust and so popped it on top of the apples.

While the ingredient list is incredibly simple: apples, butter, sugar (a pinch of salt) and puff pastry, it doesn’t seem to get as much love as apple pie.  I suspect it’s  because it needs to be served fairly quickly after it is done to get the full experience.  Left overnight, the pastry goes soggy (but the apples are still delicious.  ‘Aint no shame in taste tatin apples and a strong cup of black coffee for breakfast.

I’ve tried several tarte tatin recipes over the years and my favorite comes from the New York Times.  In this version, you peel and quarter the apples the day before and then refrigerate them.  This allows them to release some of their juices before cooking, creating less liquid to manage during the stove-stage and ultimately, a richer caramel sauce.

Tarte tatin can be made with all kinds of fruit, but apple is my favorite.  Just like apple pie, the kind of apple you use is up to you.  I like to mix some tart (usually Granny Smith) with something a little sweeter.  When shopping for this tarte tatin, I came across a new (to me) variety called envy.  They’re a really delicious eating apple and, because they’re a little crisper than some of the other sweeter varieties, they held up well.

This dish starts on the stove top in a cast iron pan.  First comes a layer of butter, then a layer of sugar.  The the apple quarters are arranged in a rosette. Pack them in as tightly as you can.  They’ll shrink.

The dish is then topped with either puff pastry or pate sucre.  I prefer puff.  And yes, this is what we’re doing with the first eight ounces of the rough puff from last week.

On goes the heat and in about five minutes your kitchen will start to smell insanely delicious.

The sugar and butter melt together to create a caramel that the apples cook in until everything is dark gold.

Then it all goes into the over so that the pastry can puff and crisp.  This is a great dinner party dessert.  Have everything ready to go before your guests arrive.  As you sit down to dinner, pop the dough on the top and start the stove.  Just as the group is finish their first course, it’ll be time for the oven.  Forty-five minutes later, you have dessert.

The scariest part of the whole endeavor is flipping the tart upright onto the serving platter.  And even that is no big deal.  If an apple or two sticks to the pan, just pull them off and pop them back into the tarte. NBG.

Serve warm with either vanilla ice cream or a healthy dab of whipped cream.

I swear, once you go tarte tatin, there is no going back.

Tarte Tatin

adapted from the New York Times, recipe by Julia Moskin


  • 8-10 large, firm-fleshed apples (buy a couple of extra–you want to pack the pan tightly)
  • 6 TBS (80g)  salted butter, very soft
  • 2/3 C (135g) granulated or light brown sugar
  • 1 sheet (8 ounces) puff pastry


  1. At least one day before you plan to cook the tart, prepare the apples: Slice off the bottom of each apple so it has a flat base. Peel and quarter the apples. Use a small sharp knife to trim the hard cores and seeds from the center of each quarter; don’t worry about being too neat. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, lightly covered, for at least one day or up to three days. (This key step reduces the amount of liquid in the tart. Don’t worry if the apples turn brown; they will be browned during the cooking anyway.)
  2. When ready to cook, heat oven to 375 degrees (or 350 if using convection). Thickly coat the bottom of a 10-inch heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick metal, with butter. Sprinkle sugar evenly on top.
  3. Cut one piece of apple into a thick round disk and place in the center of the skillet to serve as the “button.” Arrange the remaining apple pieces, each one standing on its flat end, in concentric circles around the button. Keep the pieces close together so that they support one another, standing upright. They will look like the petals of a flower.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry about 1/8-inch thick. Place an upside-down bowl or pan on the pastry and use the tip of a sharp knife to cut out a circle about the same size as the top of your skillet. Lift out the circle and drape gently over the apples. Use your hands to tuck the pastry around the apple pieces, hugging them together firmly.
  5. Place the skillet on the stovetop over medium heat until golden-brown juice begins to bubble around the edges, 3 minutes (if the juices keep rising, spoon out as needed to remain level with pastry). If necessary, raise the heat so that the juices are at a boil. Keep cooking until the juices are turning darker brown and smell caramelized, no longer than 10 minutes more.
  6. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until puff pastry is browned and firm.
  7. Let cool 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a round serving plate. (Or, if not serving immediately, let cool completely in the pan; when ready to serve, rewarm for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven before turning out.) If any apples remain stuck in the pan, gently use your fingers or a spatula to retrieve them, and rearrange on the pastry shell. Cut in wedges and serve warm with heavy cream, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.


Cake Apple

I ran across this recipe on Sunday morning while perusing Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

Simple and rustic, the batter in this recipe serves only to keep the apples together.  Dorie suggests using a variety of apples and, so I did, throwing in a granny smith, fuji, braeburn and even a honey crisp.

The only spring form pan I have is fit for a giant at about 10 inches.  For a deeper cake, I’d reccommend going with an eight-inch pan.

Perfect with a scoop of ice cream or drizzle of cream anglaise and caramel sauce, this gateau would be lovely for Thanksgiving.  Or a brunch. Or, just because.  One word of caution: this cake is so full of apples that the moisture begins to transform this baked good into a pudding by the next day.  So, I think it is best served that same day it is baked.

If you like this, you might like these

Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie Cake

Misanthropic Hostess Apple Pie

Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake

as appeared in Around by French Table by Dorie Greenspan


  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples of mixed variety
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 3 TBS dark rum (or sub-in 1 TBS vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (omit if not using rum)
  • 8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter melted and cooled


  1. Center rack in oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Butter 8-inch springform pan.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set springform pan on top of baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Peel and core apples.  Cut into 2-inch chunks.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until foamy.  Pour in sugar and whisk for a minute to blend.  Whisk in rum and vanilla.
  5. Whisk in half the flour mixture until just incorporated.  Whisk in butter.  Repeat these two steps with the remaining flour and butter.
  6. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold-in the apples making sure each piece of fruit is covered in batter.
  7. Scrape mix into prepared pan and push around the apples until you have an evenish layer (evenish is Dorie’s word…this is why I love her so much).
  8. Slide the pan (still on the baking sheet) into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife, inserted deep into the center, comes up clean.
  9. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
  10. Carefully run a blunt knife around the perimeter of the cake and remove springform, making sure to open it slowly so that no apples stick to it.



Piece of pie!

I’ve made my fear of pate brise no secret. I blame certain family members who suckled me on the crust of incredibly flakey and light pie crusts during my formative years.  As a result, I will generally do anything I can to avoid making pie crust.  This has included, using passable proxies like shortbread or graham cracker to just baking a cake instead.


TD asked for an apple pie to go with the Gobbla’ Cobbla.’  And since I knew they he would be recruited to roll about 250 Schweddy Balls earlier in the day, I had no choice but to acquiesce.  I began with Dorie Greenspan’s Good for Almost Anything Pie Dough.  Her recipe calls for a mix of very cold butter and shortening.

It also uses food processor…which made it a winner in my book.

I cheated just a little and when it was time to form the two disks of dough for refrigeration, I rolled-one-out, fit it to the pie dish and then put it in the fridge.

You know how reading a recipe the entire way through is like baking rule #1.  Well, I didn’t and so, when I went to prepare the filling I realized the Ms. Greenspan calls for quick-cooking tapioca.  Quite possibly the single baking-type ingredient I did not have in my pantry.  Undeterred, I jumped over to my cooking and baking bible, the Joy of Cooking and perused their apple pie recipes.  This is when I discovered a recipe that cooks the apples before putting them into the pie.  Intrigued (and having all the ingredients), I jumped in.  The core of the idea (ha) is to saute the apple chunks in butter until nearly cooked.   I like an apple pie with lots of apples and so, adjusted the filling recipe up.

Then they cool.

And only THEN do they go into the chilled pie-crust.

At this point, I still had very little faith in my pie baking skills and so, went rustic on the crust.

Oh but wait…what is this I see before me?  A pretty gorgeous pie with what certainly looked like flakey crust.

After enjoying our Gobbla’ Cobbla’ and martinis, the moment of truth was upon us.  A few cautious cuts and the resulting piece looked like a presentable piece of pie.  Then I took a bite.  My reaction was to employ an expletive involving a reflexive verb, a number larger than one and a day of the week beginning with T.  Was this it?  Had I finally stumbled across the holy grail of apple pie?  Just to be on the safe side, we conducted further research the next day.  In fact, the picture below was taken the next day.

I fully intended on making this pie again before posting the recipe.  Sadly, time has not been on my side.  And so, I leave it to you dear readers to vet what I think might just be a very excellent pie recipe.


New Mumford and Sons

If you like this, you might like these

Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie-Cake

Tarte de Pommes a la Normande

Misanthropic Hostess Apple Pie

adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough and Joy of Cooking’s Apple Pie II recipes

For the Crust

Ingredients (this is for a double crust)

  • 1 1 /2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 10 TBS frozen unsalted butter cut into 1/2 TBS sized-pieves
  • 2 1/2 TBS frozen vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pievs
  • 1/4 or so of iced water


  1. Place flour, sugar and salt in the food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse to just combined the ingredients.
  2. Drop-in butter and shortening and pulse only until both are cut-into the flour–think un-even bits ranging from to pea-to-orzo sized.
  3. Pulsing the processor on-and-off, add about 6 TBS a little at a time by pulsing and repeating.  Then, use a few longer pulses to incorporate the water into the flour.  Big pieces of butter in the dough, are fine (and encouraged).  If needed, continue to add water a few drops at-a-time until the dough sticks together when pinched.
  4. Scrape dough out of processor and onto a floured surface.  Divide the dough in half, form two disks (or cheat like I did and roll-out one and place it in a deep pie dish).  Wrap everything in plastic and refrigerate at least an hour before using.

For the Filling

  • 4 LBS apples (I used a mix of Granny Smith and Fiji)
  • 4 TBS unsalted butter
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 TSP salt
  1. Peel and core apples, cutting as desired (I used a rustic chop with pieces about the size of large almonds).
  2. In a very large skillet or pot, heat butter over high heat until sizzling and fragrant.
  3. Add apples and toss until glazed with the butter.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, cover tightly and cook, stirring often. until the apples are softened but still slightly crunchy.
  5. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  6. Increase heat to high and cook at a rapid boil until the juices become thick and syrupy (about 3 minutes)
  7. Immediately spread the apples i na thin layer on a baking sheet.  Let cool to room temperature.

To Assemble and Bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  2. On a floured surface, roll-out your bottom layer of dough.  Be sure to turn the dough often.  Gently place dough into the pan, do not stretch dough.
  3. Fill with apples and place in fridge while rolling-out second crust.
  4. Roll out second crust.
  5. Remove filled-pan from fridge and trim the edges of the dough so there is about 1/2 inch overhang.
  6. Center the second piece of dough over the pie and press it against the bottom crust.
  7. Trim the top crust to overhand just slightly over the bottom crust.
  8. Pinch the crust (or roll up) to create a sealed edge.
  9. Cut vents for steam and brush with egg wash if desired.
  10. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes until the crust is a rich, golden brown.
  11. Let cool and then sit for at least 4 hours before cutting.




You know it must have been a bender when…

…you black-out that apple cake you made.  Apples!  I’m talking about apples…what did you think I was talking about?  So frenzied and absorbing has my baking with apples been in the last few weeks that I actually forgot about this apple cake.

This is the last apple recipe.  I promise.

I have to admit, what first drew me to this recipe was the opportunity to shred things with my food processor.

The shredded apples get set aside for a bit in a colander.  Then, you get to abuse them further by squeezing them with a towel.  In addition to being incredibly satisfying, the shredding and squeezing helps to remove excess liquid (yeah, I know, also known as apple juice).

This is a spice-based cake.  Cinnamon, all-spice, clove, nutmeg and because I couldn’t resist, just a touch of cardamon.

The batter is substantial.  The apples form a sort of matrix that locks-in the moisture.

The cake would be lovely if you just stopped here.

But why?  The glaze comes together with brown sugar, butter, a bit of whipping cream and lemon.

Let it bubble for a while.

And then douse the cake in it.

The flavors in this cake taste like autumn to me.  Rich, complex and nearly irresistible a la mode or a dollop of gently sweetened whipped cream.

This cake would also make a nice edition to Thanksgiving dinner (and you could easily make it ahead…bonus!).

Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

just slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2007



  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1 3/4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, coarsely grated
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325F. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Drain grated apples in strainer. Using hands or kitchen towel, squeeze out excess liquid from apples. Measure 2 cups grated apples.

Using electric mixer, beat butter, both sugars, and lemon peel in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in vanilla and lemon juice. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in grated apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze:
Stir all ingredients in small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat to medium; whisk until glaze is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Invert cake onto rack set over baking sheet. Using small skewer, pierce holes all over top of warm cake. Pour glaze over top, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more. Cool cake 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From France to Russian Grandmothers, with love

You realize I couldn’t resist saying that right?

This week we round out the apple-o-rama with a cake that is really a pie.  I found this recipe while looking for another in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours.  It was one of those recipes that I knew I had to try the moment I saw it.  She’s named it Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake after a version her own grandmother made when Dorie was a child.  And it has a secret weapon: cookie-like crust.  For those of us who continue to fear pie crust, this version is almost as easy as press-in dough.

The dough is very much like a butter or even sugar cookie dough.  After it is pulled together, it gets a nice cool-down in the fridge and then you roll it out (as always, I suggest this method).  But, let’s talk about apples first, shall we?

Ms. Greenspan recommends a mix of apples.  I concur.  I used a couple of Granny Smiths, some Gala and a Golden Delicious or two to round-out the selection.

This recipe calls for 10 apples in all (you can never have too many apples, especially in this recipe).

The instructions say to slice these babies in 1/4 inch slices and then halve them if desired.  I left mine just a tad chunkier.

Before they are set aside to marinate for a bit, the apples get tossed with raisins (I used golden), a little sugar, and some cinnamon.  After making this recipe once, I decided that the next go around will include dried cranberries.  I think dried cherries would also be fantastic in this recipe.

Back to the dough.  As you can see, the original version of this recipe utilized a 9X13 inch pan, and you’ll see why in a minute.  Rolling out a perfect 11X15 inch rectangle of dough isn’t all that easy.  However–because the dough has a leavening agent (aka baking powder), any little cracks or patches in the dough fuse together as if they never happened.  For this reason, you can easily piece the dough of the bottom or even top layers together.

During the baking process the sugar dough and apples sort of mate.  The juices soak into the crusts and the result really is a bit like a pie-cake hybrid.  Or at least hybrid enough to cut into squares and still have the pieces maintain their integrity.

Of all the apple treats I’ve baked over the last month, this one has had the most recipes requests by far.

Because of it’s portability and sheer volume of final product, I think this pie-cake would make a perfect potluck dessert (think Thanksgiving).  According to Dorie, this recipe can easily be converted to a deep-dish pie; which I will be doing for my own Thanksgiving.  The dough instructions stay the same but the filling changes as follows: 8 apples, a squirt of lemon juice, 3/4 C raisins, 3 TBS sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.


The Katy Perry station on Pandora.  It’s not my fault, TD set it.  And, he’s passed blame-off to the fluffy Kitchen God.  Apparently Balu enjoys the occasional bubblegum pop tune.

Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake

from Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan


for the dough

  • 1/2 LB unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 C all-purpose flour

for the apples

  • 10 medium assorted apples (or all of one kind, your choice)
  • squirt of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 C moist, plump raisins
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


to make the dough

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 more minutes.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix to just combined.
  4. Add-in the lemon juice (don’t worry if the dough curdles).
  5. Still working on slow speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 C of flour, scraping down the bowl as needed.  While the dough is meant to be soft, if it looks more like batter than dough, add remaining 1/4 C flour.  When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it into half.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours, or up to 3 days.

To make the apples

  1. Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick then cut the slices in half cross-wise if desired.  Toss the slices in a both with a little lemon juice and add the raisins.  Mix together the cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle of the apples and stir evenly.  Taste and apple and adjust sugar as needed.

Putting it all together

  1. Center rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.  Generously butter and line with parchment a 9X13 inch baking pan.
  2. Remove the dough from the fridge.  If it is too hard to roll and cracks, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving (I did both, very satisfying).
  3. Spread the dough between two layers of parchment and carefully roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  You can go for the gold and try to roll-out an 11X 15 inch rectangle or you can roll out smaller pieces and patch them together in the pan.
  4. Transfer the dough to the pan.  In a perfect world you want the dough to come up the sides a bit–but in the end it doesn’t matter because of the magic and forgiving puff-factor.
  5. Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and evenly spread them across the bottom.
  6. Roll-out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples.  Cut the dough so you’ve got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhand and tuck the excess into the side of the pan, as though you were making a bed.
  7. If prepping in advance, you can stop here and refrigerate overnight. Otherwise…
  8. Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough.  Using a small, sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.
  9. Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is nice and golden and the juices are bubbling up through the slits.  Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or room temperature.  Cut into squares, diamonds.

The table of terror and other French adventures

Do you mind if we stay in Normandy a bit longer?  What if I offer another version of tarte aux pommes?

As I mentioned last Thursday, TD and I were in France a decade ago.  Sadly, we have yet to return, but that isn’t the point of this post.  Or maybe it is.  You see, TD is a bit of a francophobe.  Despite everything having turned out pretty much okay, he still hasn’t gotten over World War II.  So, the only way I could get him to actually visit France the first time was to include a trip to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. This really was a win-win situation.  He got to stand on what is technically American soil in France and I had an excuse to make sure we spent a couple of nights in Bayeux.

I have to admit, I was not expecting the power or emotion of the monument.  Perhaps it was that we’d just finished watching  HBO’s World War II mini-series Band of Brothers.  Or perhaps it was some strange prescience about what was just around the corner as we  returned from this trip on September 10, 2001.  Either way, the experience left an indelible mark on my reverence for what it means to live in a free democracy.

Even after spending the day at the memorial and in the local historical sights, there was plenty to do and see in the area (and what I mean by plenty is like, we should have spent a couple  more months there).  Bayeux is the home of the Bayeux Tapestry, a seriously long embroidered banner made in the early 9th century depicting some serious European history (hence the serious length).  Now, generally, TD and I are all for museums.  And, we did walk by the  Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux several times during our visit.  However, the City itself proved too charming a siren and we spent most of our time wandering around enjoying the outdoor markets and quaint architecture.

And then there was the Table of Terror.

Or at least, that’s what TD saw.

I saw La Table du Terroir.

Terroir is one of those lovely french words that does not have an English translation.  Grossly oversimplified, the word references a variety of geographic, weather and generally excellent karmic conditions that give certain crops their identity.  It is often utilized in conjunction with grape varietals.  And  Halloween.

Though terroir and its meaning is significantly more charming, “terror” stuck and we still talk about our meal at the Table of Terror (which was, of course, the exact opposite).

And that brings me to this week’s recipe: tarte normande.

Like its sweet and elegant sister tarte aux pommes, tarte normade is crowned with a composed array of thinly sliced apples.  However, instead of more apples underneath, the normande version has a beautiful layer of frangipane.  Frangipane is sort of like an almond custard.  It is nutty, but also somehow manages to be both light and rich.  It is incredibly versatile and equally delicious with apples, berries or stone fruit.

Unlike last week’s press-in sweet tart dough, this tarte starts with a more savory rolled-dough.

Since you are only using a single crust, the dough can easily be rolled, carefully transferred into a tart pan and then refrigerated or even frozen (be sure to wrap in plastic) in advance.

While your dough is in the fridge, it’s time to make the frangipone.  Which brings us back (once again) to almond meal.  Make your own or buy it, either way, you’ll need about 2/3 of a cup.

Pulsed together in the food processor, the finished product is sort of like a gritty whipped frosting (well, not finished product, I don’t know if anyone would eat this stuff raw).

The frangipone can also be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a day or two.  Once you are ready to assemble the tart, spread the frangipone evenly in the bottom of the tart.

Then, a nice layer of thinly sliced apples is arrange on top followed by a generous sprinkle of sugar.

Then, bake until toasty.  Your apples will sink-into the tart a little bit.  For this reason, I suggest cramming as many apple slices into your arrangement as you can possibly fit.

Pretty, isn’t it?

The final step is a light brushing of apricot preserves (melted) if you so desire.  You’ll want to let the tart cool before serving so that you can easily remove the tart ring.  However, it would taste pretty amazing slightly warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (or caramel, or chocolate or….) or maybe some scratch whipped cream.  Not that I would admit to it, but this little tart tarte makes an excellent breakfast with a strong cup of black coffee.


Adele.  Both albums.  One playlist.

Tarte de pommes a la Normande




  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons cold water, or as needed


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon apple brandy (I used peach because its what I had)
  • 2/3 cup ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  • 4 medium sweet apples – peeled, cored, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar for decoration
  • 1/4 cup apricot jelly


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 1/3 cups of flour and salt. Add the butter, 1 egg yolk and water, and stir until the mixture forms large crumbs. If it is too dry to press a handful together, stir in more water. Press the dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten slightly, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until firm. This part can be done up to three days in advance.
  2. To make the frangipane, cream together the butter and 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium bowl until light and soft. Gradually mix in the egg and the remaining egg yolk one at a time. Stir in the apple brandy. Stir 2 tablespoons of flour into the ground almonds, then mix into the batter. Set aside.
  3. Roll the pastry dough out to about a 12 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fold loosely into quarters, and center the point in a 10 inch tart or pie pan. Unfold dough, and press into the bottom and up the sides. Prick with a fork all over, and flute the edges. Return pastry to the refrigerator to chill until firm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Place a baking sheet inside the oven while it preheats.
  5. Spoon the frangipane into the chilled pastry, and spread into an even layer. Arrange the apple slices in an overlapping spiral pattern. Each slice should have one edge pressed into the frangipane until it touches the pastry base, and then overlap the previous slice. Start at the outside edge, and work towards the center.
  6. Place the pie plate on top of the baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the filling begins to brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake for another 10 minutes, then sprinkle sugar over the top of the tart. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes, or until the sugar caramelizes slightly.
  7. Cool the tart on a wire rack. A short time before serving, warm the apricot jelly. Add some water if necessary to make it a liquid consistency. Brush onto the tart for a nice shine.

An apple a day leads to…100 posts!

Apple of my eye.  How about them apples? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Don’t upset the apple cart.   It’s like comparing apples and oranges.  The big apple.  Criss-cross applesauce! An apple for the teacher.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to a month of apples.

To tell the truth, I was feeling a little uninspired in the baking department.  However, a friend and colleague (thanks GMS!) made a simple suggestion: tarte aux pommes.  Suddenly, I was back in Bayeaux Normandy in early fall just about a decade ago.  The air was crisp, the camembert ripe et les pommes?  Sigh.

Like its cousin, the apple pie, tarte aux pommes has numerous equally delicious incarnations.  But, let’s start with tradition.  With a twist.  I’ve been experimenting with pie and tart crust.  So, this tart started with Dorie Greenspan’s sweet tart dough.  This is a press-in dough, so if you fear the rolling pin, this is a good option. This is also a sweeter dough than some and so, pairs well with tart (as opposed to tarte) flavors.  Simple ingredients get combined in the food processor.

Once sandy, turn the mixture onto a lightly floured surface, and anything that didn’t get combined in the processor gets a light kneed.

From here, the dough can be pressed directly into your tin, pan or mold.  Or, wrapped securely in plastic and chilled until needed.

From Dorie, we now switch to Julia and peel four pounds of apples.  She recommends golden delicious.  I used a combination of Granny Smith, Gala and golden.  Three cups get sliced into pretty 1/8 inch disks.  The rest are cut into chunks.

In the meantime, push all of the preserves through a sieve.

The result will be a gorgeous glaze.

Mix 1/3 of the apricots with sugar and apple brandy or cider.  Set aside.

Now it’s time for the sauce.  Add apple chunks to a heavy saucepan.

Cook on low for about 20 minutes.

Until the apples are tender.  Increase heat and mix-in the preserves mixture and butter.  Bring to a boil.

And stir constantly until the sauce holds a mass on the spoon.

Then, into the cold tart shell (I’ve used a pie tin here because my tart pan was otherwise occupied.  I mean come on, it is a tart pan).

Arrange the apples on top.

And, into the oven until the crust and apples are slightly browned.

As a final step that I somehow forgot to photograph, lightly brush the remaining preserves over the top of the tart.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.  And with that, I close my 100th post.  Ooh la la!


Coldplay.  Don’t know what it is about them or me lately, but they sure hit the spot.

Tarte aux Pommes

adapted from:

Crust: sweet tart dough, Dorrie Greenspan, Baking from My Home to Yours, Houghton Mifflin

Filling: Tarte aux Pommes, Julia Child (with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck of course), Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf



  • 1 1 /2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 9 TBS unsalted butter, frozen and cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk


  1. Put flour, sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combined.
  2. Scatter butter pieces over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut-in.
  3. Stir the yolk to break it up and then gradually add to the mixture, pulsing in between until the dough becomes sandy and and forms clumps and curds.
  4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and kneed gently to incorporated any unmixed ingredients.
  5. Butter a nine-inch fluted tart pan (or in my case, a pie tin as my tarte pan was in use at the time).
  6. Press the dough evenly into the pan and up the sides of the pan.  (TMH note–using the bottom surface an 8 ounce measuring cup is useful in smoothing down the dough, just don’t press too firmly otherwise the dough loses it’s crumbly texture).
  7. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes.  Or, refrigerate over night.

For filling and to complete the tarte


  • 4 lbs firm cooking apples
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 C + 1/2 C apricot preserves, forced through a sieve
  • 1/4 C Calvados, rum, or cognac or 1 TB vanilla (TMH note:  because I took this tart to work, I utilized the vanilla and substituted-in 1/4 C apple cider)
  • 2/3 C + 2 TBS granualted suagr
  • 3 TB butter
  • Grated zest of one lemon


  • Peel, core and quarter the apples.  Cut enough to make 3 cups into even 1/8 inch lengthwise slices and toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice and first 2 TB sugar.  Reserve for the top of the tart.
  • Cut the rest of the apples into rough slices.
  • Place remaining apples in a heavy saucepan and cook, covered over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender.
  • Beat in the first 1/3 C apricot perserves, butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest.
  • Raise heat and boil, stirring until apple-sauce is thick enough to hold in a mass in the spoon.
  • Remove crust from fridge and spread the applesauce in the shell.
  • Cover with a neat, closely overlapping layer of sliced apples arranged in a spiral or concentric circles.
  • Bake in upper third of over for about 30 minutes or until the sliced apples have browned lightly.
  • Slide tart onto a rack or serving dish and spoon or paint over it a light coating of melted apricot preserves.