Don’t share this super-duper secret revelation with just anyone, but between you and me: law school is hard work. So hard, in fact, that Billy eighty-sixed his initial Pacific-side Thanksgiving break plans and stayed (is staying! is now!) in Iowa. And while our ceaselessly diligent worker bee kicks course outlines and exam prep into second (more like fourth) gear, where, pray tell, am I?
Well, er, I decided to fly back to Virginia anyway, because those sweet potato pies, and pecan pies, and cranberry sauces aren’t going to cook themselves. And that’s diligent too, right? Sort of?
At least I left a trail of Thanksgiving in my wake.
Admittedly, this is a French tarte aux pommes. It’s a bit far from the traditional, lidded apple pie that’ll cap off Thursday’s turkey feast — that’s the bad news. The good news is that apples really take the center stage, rather than syrupy cinnamon drippings or slabs of buttery dough. (Wait, that’s the good news?) Put another way: It tastes so light, so pure that you’d feel perfectly sensible having a slice alongside your morning coffee and Cocoa Puffs. (Though if you’re greeting 8am with chocolate flakes, you probably don’t need much convincing. Ahem.)
Finally, since this was my first time (first time!) making my dad’s famous apple tarte sans aide, a few tips: Yes, there will be enough dough. Yes, you should slice the apples as thinly as possible. And yes, of course, you should bathe them in more sugar, cinnamon, and cream than you think necessary.
Tarte aux Pommes
For the crust
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 5 1/2 tbsp cold butter, cubed
- 1/8 cup cold water, more as needed
For the filling
- 2-3 apples
- a shower of sugar and cinnamon
- a healthy glug of heavy cream and Cointreau
Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture looks like tiny peas. Gradually stir in the water until you’re getting big flakes. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten slightly into a disk. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for a couple hours.
Flour your counter generously and roll out the dough into an approximately 12″ circle. If pieces flake off, just pick them up and roll them right back in. It will work out. Transfer it to a 9″ tart pan, either by gently folding the dough into quarters and unfolding it in the pan, or by rolling it loosely around your rolling pin. Trim and crimp the edges. Cover the dough with wax paper and fill with pie weights. Brush some cream on the edges. Cook in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel, core, and slice your apples very thinly. Toss in sugar, cinnamon, and cream.
Arrange apple slices in the pie and bake for 30 minutes. When it’s done, slather on some peach or apricot jam. Try to resist splitting it between four people evenly.