Tarte aux Pommes avec Pâte à Foncer
Our first patisserie class today had a very different atmosphere to our usual cuisine frenzy – sifting flour calmly, people humming along while rolling dough, slicing apples leisurely…all very different to the rush, speed and fervency of the cuisine kitchen, but having its own pleasant energy. And there were some super cool gadgets in there too, like the biggest mixer I’d ever seen.
We started off our first patisserie class with pâte à foncer (sweet tarte dough) and tarte aux pommes (apple tart). Making the dough and the apple sauce was the easy bit…putting it all together is where most of us were at a loss. I’m no artist and I cannot pretend to be one. I’m not even any good at ball sports due to my lack of hand and eye co-ordination (hence, always picked last in PE classes at high school). So when it came to handling the dough to make it look like the most aesthetically pleasing work of art since Venus di Milo I was having a bit of a tricky time.
One of the boys in the class exclaimed out loud, “Pastry is a total chick thing!”. I glimpsed over at his pie that looked like it had been mauled by Wolfman (rubbish movie btw) and thought to myself that there might even be a grain of truth in what he said. Mine may not have looked like the picture perfect specimen the chef had created as a demo, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. Not to sound big-headed or anything, but the chef may even have picked mine out as one of the best in class. Now that’s what we call a Tart Ta-Tiinnnn!
Pâte à Foncer
125g butter (if you can, try getting Beurre Sec or Beurre Patissiere…these are harder than ordinary shop-bought dough and are easier to work with)
1. Sift flour.
2. Break up butter into small bits and mix into dough. Work the flour into the butter between palms of hands without overheating it. This is called Sablage. It should have the consistency of sand or breadcrumbs. NB: if overheated, the dough will become too elastic and shrink when baked.
3.Make a well in the sablage. Add the egg, salt, sugar and water in the middle and mix it in. Gradually mix in the dough into eggy mixture and form into a dough. Do not overknead. If there are lumps of butter or flour in the dough, crush the dough with palm or pastry scraper (Frasage).
4. Shape dough into an even log and cut in half. Wrap doughs in cling film and cool in fridge. There’s enough dough to make 2 tarts.
5. Grease tart ring. Roll out dough to diametre of tart ring + 2 fingers width (so that it folds over the ring later). The rolled out pastry should have a 2mm thickness.
6. Prick the dough lightly everywhere and flip it over onto the tart ring so that the pricked side is under.
7. Using the thumbs, stretch the dough on the lower rim just a little. Once done, bash the ring against the worktop till the ring hits the surface.
7. Fold in 1cm of excess dough over the edge to make a rim on the inside. Then shape the rim to a 45 degrees angle.
8. Using pastry pincers, pinch the rim into pretty segments all around.
9. Place on a tart baking tray/plate.
Apple Sauce and Topping
2 golden delicious apples (peeled, cored, and chopped up rough)
2 golden delicious apples (peeled, cored, halved, and sliced into 1mm slices)
Knob of butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup water
1. Heat butter in saucepan. Fry cinnamon in butter for a minute then toss in the apples. Stir for 2 minutes then add cup of water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, giving it a stir every now and again (don’t forget about it as it may burn).
2. Take off heat once cooked and mush up with whisk. Let cool to room temp.
3. Once cooled, pour into the tart shell and bash the tart plate a few times against the worktop to even the mixture.
4. Arrange the apple slices in a spiral. Bake for 40 minutes at 200C. Glaze and chill.