Transylvanian Apple TartPosted: January 20, 2014
If you were wanting to pick a recipe to illustrate the diversity and imagination available in the culinary world, you could do worse than pick an apple tart. Such simple ingredients, such a basic concept – pastry case, apples, sugar – but the sheer variety of interpretation is exhilarating.
At the most basic level, it can comprise a sheet of pastry folded around a mound of peeled and sliced apples, tossed in sugar, and at the elegant end of the spectrum, we have the beautiful Tarte Tatin of M.Philippe Conticini (La Pâtisserie des Rêves ) seen below – 2mm-thin ribbons of apple slowly baked into a soft confit and presented on caramel puff pastry with a hazelnut streusel.
I saw a photograph of this pastry several years ago and actually had a go at re-creating it, painstakingly cutting apples into wafer-thin slices by hand, long before I discovered how it was actually achieved. Monsieur Conticini employs the use of a very swish piece of equipment called a Turning Slicer. An apple is inserted horizontally and, whilst similar to the more familiar apple peeler gadgets, in this utensil the blade is closer to a razor, and cuts a continual ribbon of translucent apple flesh as the fruit is rotated in front of the cutting blade.
Originally created in Japan for use with firm vegetables such as daikon, and offering fabulous possibilities for different uses, apart from not having the space to home it, the hefty price tag of $350-$700 puts it firmly beyond my pocket.
If we dial back a bit along the apple tart continuum from the elegance of Monsieur Conticini’s creation, we would come to a place into which the Transylvanian Apple Tart would slot very well. Its still very much recognisable as an apple tart, but with a few tweaks and additions to make it intriguing:
- The use of a raising agent in the pastry – after baking, it’s closer to a shortcake than a pastry and wonderfully light and crumbly.
- The addition of an unusual dried fruit – in this case, chopped prunes. Admittedly, it might not be prunes at all, I suspect it having got a little scrambled in translation, but prunes is what I used and very delicious it turned out, so I’m going to run with it.
- The buttery custard that brings everything together – added after the tart is mostly baked, when the majority of the fruit juice has evaporated during cooking, it adds a richness to the filling without causing a dreaded soggy bottom pastry.
- The generous slosh of alcohol – rum!
I found this recipe on several Russian blogs, and it appears to have originated from a book called ‘Bakery’ by Ursula Gruninger. I’ve not managed to track down an English language copy, but on the basis of this recipe, I’m keeping an eye out!
Transylvanian Apple Tart
Makes 1 x 24cm tart
750g Bramley apples – 3 large
50g chopped prunes
4-5tbs caster sugar
5tbs dark rum
- Peel, core and slice the apples.
- Put the apples and the res of the ingredients into a pan and toss to coat.
- Cover and heat gently until the apples start to soften.
- Remove from the heat, stir again, cover and set aside to cool.
180g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
90g unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- When the apples have cooled, put all the pastry ingredients into a food processor and blitz to breadcrumbs.
- Grease and line a 24cm tart tin or spring-form pan with baking parchment.
- Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press lightly into the bottom and sides. The sides should stand about 4cm high.
- Add the cooled apple filling and smooth.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
30g unsalted butter – softened
40g caster sugar
2 large eggs
- While the tart is baking, whisk the above ingredients together.
- Remove the tart from the oven and pour over the custard mixture. Jiggle the tin a little to make sure all the spaces are filled.
- Return the tart to the oven for a further 10 minutes until the custard is golden brown and just set.
- Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle whilst hot with a further 2-3tbs rum.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool fully on a wire rack.
- Delicious? You can COUNT on it! Ah-Ah-Ahhh!