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Friday, April 22, 2011

toast point apple tart.

I want to kick, maul and bite myself.

Because I just made a friggin' delicious tart...

and murdered it singlehandedly.

I love Dorie, she's my personal idol. And if she has a book with the words Paris and Sweets, you can bet your oven that I'll find my way to her book somehow.

Usually when I come across any apple tart/pie/puff recipe, I flip right past them without a second glance. But this recipe was calling out to me, the words almost flashing from the page. Within the next five seconds, I dog-eared the page.

This tart, as you can probably imagine, is no ordinary apple tart, what with the words toast point in them already. That's right. Slices of bread buttered to death, toasted, sliced into triangles, and arranged among the chunks of juicy, caramelized vanilla apples sauteed in butter.

And let's not forget the most important part. The caramel cream. Oh yeah.

The caramel cream...

Which I destroyed! Arrggh! May the pastry god strike me.

The recipe called for heavy cream, 1 egg and 3 yolks among the ingredients but I had no heavy cream (what is wrong with me?) and only 3 eggs. The egg problem I solved by replacing 2 yolks with 1 egg but the heavy cream part got me. I couldn't go out to buy some, so I improvised by swapping it with evaporated milk.

I knew that evaporated milk wouldn't have enough fat in it to set the cream properly, at least I thought so,  so I added cornstarch to the mixture. While the recipe let the caramel cream be after tempering the eggs, I poured my version back into the pot to thicken, just in case. Finally, I had something like pastry cream, only much looser. I smiled to myself then, thinking everything would turn out all right.

Only it didn't.

Because my cream was already thickened, it didn't need as much time in the oven as the recipe called for. Instead of 45-55 minutes or so, I only needed 15. As a result, my crust was still anemic and pale, possibly a little soft at some points. My cream was supposed to flow into the little nooks and crannies between the apples and toast points, but it remained as a thick layer of gloop right on top of everything.

What a world of difference mine turned out from this! I wish the book had some pictures to at least give me an idea of what it should look like.

But it set in the end, and that's probably the most important. No point baking a tart when you can't slice it. Anyway, the upside is that the crust won't turn soggy as quickly. Aah... I feel better now. Sort of.

What I'm truly disappointed with is the richness of the cream which is entirely my fault. It was, well, lacking in body, something only heavy cream and the proper amount of egg yolks should have given. I should have made it another day when I had all the ingredients but dang, I was just so impatient to bake it. The caramel cream would have been a hit. Honest.

Okay, now its time to talk about the good stuff. I love the sauteed apples. True, I might have overcooked it to the point of near mushiness by accident because I left the lid on, but it was the best part of the tart. This is proof that apples can taste good without cinnamon. Those toast points that got submerged in the cream became soft but not mushy, quite like bread pudding. I bet leaving it overnight in the fridge and re-warming the tart the next day would truly give you a bread pudding tart texture. Dorie's sweet tart dough can be a little hard to work with- it's rather wet, but it didn't shrink much in the oven. That's good news!

I did another thing differently- buttering the bread with salted butter instead of a mixture of sugar and unsalted butter to provide a contrast between sweet custard and salty buttery toast points. The bread I used was wholemeal instead of plain, which I would stay far away from if given the chance, but it works wonderfully well here.

I think the word "tart" for this one is a misnomer. It's tall enough to be a pie!

Tarte aux Pommes au Pain de Mie (Toast-Point Apple Tart) 
Makes one 26cm / 10-inch tart 
[Adapted from Lenôtre, in Paris Sweets, by Dorie Greenspan] taken via Dodol & Mochi

For the apples:

900g Golden Delicious apples
30g unsalted butter

25g castor sugar
Pulp of 1/4 vanilla bean

  1. Peel, quarter and core the apples; cut each quarter in half, set aside
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the bubbles subside, toss in the apple slices; cook and stir till the apples are lightly browned and almost cooked through.
    Sprinkle over (A), let cook while stirring until sugar caramelizes the apples. (If you're using vanilla extract, leave vanilla out totally for now; only stir in vanilla extract to coat well before dishing the caramelized apples out instead.) Then with a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a plate and let them cool till room temperature; discard the vanilla pulp. Set aside for use later
    The caramelized apples can be prepared up to six hours ahead--but do keep them lightly covered at room temperature. 
For the toast:
30g unsalted butter, at room temperature
23g light brown sugar

4 slices firm white/country bread, with crusts removed if they are too hard
*I used homemade wholemeal bread without the crusts removed as mentioned. Greenspan even suggested cinnamon-swirl raisin bread works well, too!
  1. Preheat the broiler/grill in your oven, or you can make do with a toaster oven. Meanwhile, beat (B) together till blended
  2. Spread sugar-butter mixture on each side of the bread slices, then place them buttered side up on a nonstick baking sheet and toast the bread under the broiler. Turn the bread over to toast the other side.
    Cut each slice of bread in half on the diagonal and set aside to cool till room temperature
For the caramel cream:
315g heavy cream 

1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
65g sugar
Pulp of 1/4 vanilla bean
  1. Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk (C) together till thickens and looks slightly pale in a medium bowl
  2. Whisking the egg mixture gently all the while, gradually mix in the hot cream into the eggs--this is called tempering. Skim off bubbles if there is any; rap the bowl of cream-egg mixture against the counter to get rid of excess bubbles. Set aside 
To assemble: 

1 partially baked 10-inch / 26cm pâte sucrée tart shell (recipe here

20g walnut pieces
20g moist, plump golden raisins
  1. Place the parbaked tart shell onto a parchment paper-lined insulated sheet to get ready
  2. Line up the caramelized apple slices in parallel rows in the tart shell--have one row support the next and all the slices face the same direction
  3. Once the apples are in place, arrange the toast triangles decoratively among the slices next--with the broad base of the toast against the tart crust and the points up.
  4. Scatter over (D) across the toast layer, then discard the vanilla pulp and pour in one-third to half of the crème caramel--it will spill over if you have it all poured in now!
  5. Carefully slide the baking sheet into the oven to bake the tart on the middle rack at 165C/325F for 10 minutes. The cream should be set enough for you to pour in the remaining till it's reached the rim of the tart at this point.
  6. Bake for another 40-45 minutes/till a knife inserted in the center comes out clean--the cream should shimmy the way a quiche filling does.
  7. Transfer the tart--still on its baking sheet--to a cooling rack and let it rest till just warm, when it's at its best!
    Best serve the tart the day it was made while still warm.
This post is linked to Sweets for a Saturday.


  1. That looks like a great recipe, even with your emergency substitutions. Isn't it funny how we'll spend hours baking something, but won't take the ten minutes beforehand to run to the store and get all the right ingredients? I'm guilty of doing that soooo much.

  2. Thank goodness I'm not alone:)