Excerpted with permission from The Wine Table: Recipes and Pairings from Winemakers’ Kitchens by Vickie Reh. Copyright 2018 Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
Vickie Reh is a chef and certified sommelier who has spent her life researching food and wine traditions. When not traveling, Vickie has spent years on both sides of the kitchen door alternating between roles as chef, wine director, wine consultant, and tour guide with stints in Washington, DC, at Buck's Fishing & Camping, Comet Ping Pong, Via Umbria, and Arrowine and Cheese. She is the author of The Wine Table: Recipes and Pairings from Winemakers' Kitchens, which was named one of the Washington Post’s Best Cookbooks of 2018, about cooking with winemakers filled with recipes, photographs, and tales of her adventures, available now from Skyhorse Publishing at https://www.skyhorsepublishing.com/9781510730830/the-wine-table/.
For many years, Alsatian Apple Tartlets were winter staples on my menu at Buck’s. When Marie at Domaine Weinbach (in Kaysersberg, France, where I took part in the harvest) told me that it was to be our dessert at lunch one day, I was curious to see how my recipe compared. It’s a classic for a reason: slightly sweet pie dough filled with tart apples lightly coated with a frothy custard that sets up and caramelizes in the oven—excellent. My recipe differs slightly from Marie’s in that I add a little finely grated lemon peel to the custard mixture to provide a contrast for the richness of the custard and the sweetness of the apple.
Recipe: Alsatian Apple Tart
Yield: 1 large tart
Ease of Preparation: Moderate
Ease of Sourcing: Easy
Wine Pairing: Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Altenbourg Vendanges Tardives or an unoaked dessert wine.
For the Dough:
- 11 oz. all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 11 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter
- ½ cup extremely cold water
For the Filling:
- Peel of one lemon, finely grated
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 large crisp pie apples
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- Pinch cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- ¾ cup heavy cream, whipped until frothy and slightly thickened
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Food processor with metal blade
- Pastry scraper
- Microplane or lemon zester
- Rolling pin
- 11-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom
- Pastry brush
- Medium-sized kitchen bowl
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
For the Dough:
Place the flour, salt, sugar, and the chilled butter in the food processor and process until it is the texture of grains of sand. With the processor still running, pour in the cold water a couple of drops at a time until it forms a loose ball.
Dump the contents of the food processor out on a floured board and bring it together to form a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, roll the dough into a circle on a floured surface until it is about 1⁄8-inch thick and line the tart shell, being careful not to tear the dough. Roll the rolling pin across the top of the tart to trim away the excess dough.
For the Filling:
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
In a medium-sized bowl, add the juice of one lemon to a couple of cups of cold water.
Peel and core the apples. Slice them in quarters and then cut each quarter lengthwise into four slices. Submerge the slices in the cold lemon water and continue peeling and slicing the remaining apples. When finished, drain the apples and pat dry. Arrange the apples in a circular pattern in the tart shell. There is usually an empty space in the center of the first circle. Arrange a second, smaller circle in the center with the apples facing the other direction. Depending on the size of your apples, you may need to use two layers of apples so that the level of the apples is approximately as high as the side of your tart shell.
Cook the apple-filled pie for 15 minutes.
While the pie is cooking, stir the grated lemon peel, egg yolks, sugar, salt, and cinnamon together. Fold in the whipped heavy cream—working it just until the mixture is homogenous. The frothiness of the mixture lends a nice texture to the caramelized surface of the tart. Pour the egg mixture over the apples in the pie. Use the pastry brush to paint the exposed apple pieces with the cream mixture.
Finish baking the pie until the apples are softened and the cream/egg mixture is golden brown and set.
Cool slightly before cutting. Serve with vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, or on its own.
1. Make sure you use pie apples. They are crisp and hold their shape well. Examples of pie apples are: McIntosh, Jonathan, Jonagold, Pippin, Braeburn, and Honeycrisp. These are just a few suggestions. Ask your local farmer what they recommend.
2. This also makes great individual tarts. If you decide to go that route, you should prebake the empty tart shells for 10 minutes. Also, since the tart will be smaller, apple slices are too large. Cube the apples in ¼-inch cubes. You will only need to bake the apple-filled small tarts for 5 or 10 minutes, until the apples are just barely tender, before adding the egg and cream mixture. As with the larger tarts, cook until the custard has set and the top is golden brown.