Sunday, 7 March 2010

Apple Tart 'Maman Blanc'

Wow! Raymond Blanc is now even more of a hero for me - or perhaps I should thank his mother! For the first time I've made a pastry tart which kept a crisp base and didn't shrink! The recipe for his mother's Apple Tart is part of his Kitchen Secrets series currently being shown by the BBC.

There's nothing special about the pastry recipe - it's the standard shortcrust proportions of fat to flour, enriched with an egg, but after making the pastry by hand (I have no food processor) I followed all his instructions for shaping, resting, rolling and lining to the letter and the results were superb.

I'm sure that cooking the apples in the pastry case before adding the custard filling helped to keep the base crisp, as the apple juices and their glaze made a sticky syrupy layer on top of the pastry, but the way the pastry is handled minimised the usual shrinkage.

As I don't have a pastry ring, I used a loose-based fluted flan tin instead. I don't know whether this was slightly too shallow, or whether my apples were larger than those he used, but I couldn't get all the custard into the case - I only used about 2/3 of the mixture. It looked very pale and wobbly after only 10 minutes in the oven, so I turned off the heat but left the tart in the cooling oven for another 10 minutes, by which time it had coloured slightly. Apart from that, the only other change I made was to use dark rum instead of Calvados - I can't justify buying a bottle for just half a tablespoon!


The finished tart was wonderful - caramelised apples (I used Coxes) which were soft but still holding their shape and not too sweet, held together by a little custard. Together with the aforementioned crisp pastry case, this was just about perfection. My only quibble with the description of perfect was that the cooked custard shrunk away from the apple pieces as the tart cooled. I don't know whether this was because I overcooked the custard or because the tart case was too full - on the TV programme it only looked as if the tart was less than half filled with the custard.

17 comments:

The Caked Crusader said...

My custard pulled away from the apples too, but then I cooked it for 20 minutes as - like you - I wasn't happy it had set after 10. It tasted gorgeous though!
Funny that we were both inspired enough to make it this weekend - great minds must think alike!

Lucie said...

This looks a seriously good Apple Tart.....it looks so professional! Thanks for sharing this - I shall be trying this soon Lucie x

Margaret said...

I also made this and my custard too pulled away from the apples. I only cooked my custard for 10 minutes, it still wobbled but continued cooking when it cooled down. Your tart looks lovely.

Suelle said...

This recipe has certainly been popular! It's reassuring to know that the custard behaved the same way for others too.

Katie said...

I snagged this recipes off the internet after watching his programme too. Haven't got round to making it yet, but longing to now - it looks gorgeous!

Foodycat said...

I haven't got around to making it yet, but I was drooling when I watched it! Maman Blanc sounds like a very useful mother.

Suelle said...

Hope you both get round to it soon, Katie and Foodycat.

It's worth mentioning that the pastry was still crisp when we finished the leftover tart the following day.

Choclette said...

Oh, wonderful Suelle, it looks and sounds so good. I'm impressed with your perfect pastry. My experience of custard in tarts is that it does pull away from the pastry, so maybe there is no remedy?

Zeb said...

M Blanc appears to be in hospital awaiting surgery. I had a look on his website for a recipe and he has a blog there where he posted sweetly today about having too much foie gras and chocolate....

Maria♥ said...

Wow! Suelle, your tart looks perfect and I bet tasted so good.

Maria
x

Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said...

Suelle, that looks absolutely amazing! I completely understand your frustration with shrinking pastry - what do you think it was that made the difference? I've read somewhere that resting time is important, but I'm always too impatient.. :)

Suelle said...

Celia - I think in this case, shaping the dough into a largish circle before chilling, meant the final rolling could be done while the dough was still cold. The instructions for lining the tin stressed the importance of not stretching the pastry and the second chilling/resting after the flan tin was lined would have helped too. As you say - we often ignore the importance of chilling and resting, but it seems it's worth taking the time to do it properly.

zeb said...

I've made this today and taken it out for a supper and it worked really well! Just like you, I found the custard didn't quite set in the middle so gave it an extra 10 minutes in the oven and the apples came away a bit from the custard, but I was very pleased with it. I watched the tv show on replay as I hadn't seen it - You could presumably use the ring part of a springform tin to do it the way he does it in the show? I also made a chocolate tart from Rachel Allan's book which had blind baked pastry. But I do like the business with the clingfilm and the large circle of pastry chilling, that and using a melon baller to core my apple halves. all the best - thanks for posting this, I probably wouldn't have made it without your inspiration! Zeb

Suelle said...

Hi, Zeb - glad it worked well for you too. The only problem with a springform tin is that most of them are too deep - it would be difficult to get a neat top edge, I would think, plus the extra depth of the tin could keep the heat away from the apples - it could prevent them caramelising properly.

Gill the Painter said...

I thought Raymond made this look like effortless cooking.
It's more skilled than it seems, and what a lovely tart you've made, Sue.

I plan to make this in the week, but with just brandy.

Is it worth buying a chef's ring I wonder.....

Suelle said...

Hi Gill - I don't make tarts often, and I already have several flan tins, so I don't think I'd buy a flan ring. I've always wondered how you hold the ring still while you try to put in the pastry - with a loose-bottomed flan tin, if you move it, everything moves together.

Gill the Painter said...

That's a good point, Sue.

I've got a lightly scalloped loose bottomed quiche tin come to think of it, unused so far.
It's wiser to try that out first.

I'll let you know how I get along.