Photography: Paul Strabbing
Apple pie is an American icon, and it is difficult to compete with the image of the apple pie resting on the kitchen windowsill. The classic apple pie is made with tart, ripe apples elegantly paired with simple pie dough. In an effort not to compete with this classic, I have altered the presentation slightly to provide customers with something exciting and a bit different. The formula encompasses all of the basic elements involved in an apple pie and adapts them for interesting, individual petit gateaux.
As obvious as it sounds, the apples are the most important aspect of this formula. Choose the best apples with no bruises or soft spots. Bruises and soft spots are often signs that the apples have been overhandled. They also may indicate that the fruit contains too much water, which means less flavor. Just as apple cider is made with a blend of sweet and tart apples, this same concept produces a superior apple dessert. Purchase apples from a local vendor when possible and advertise this relationship to your customers.
The choice of the apple variety is up to you, but here are a few suggestions that are ideal for a tart: Northern Spy, Winesap, Johnny Mac, Jonagold, Jonathan, Pippin, Rome Beauty and Honey Crisp. Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples will work as well, but speak first with a vendor about heirloom apple varieties.
By tradition, apple pie features pie dough, streusel and nuts, and is accompanied by vanilla or cinammon ice cream. This formula can be prepared as an entremet or cake, but is presented here as an individual pastry. The vanilla Bavarian cream replaces vanilla ice cream, and the praline crðme caramel offers an innovative variation for the customer while introducing hazelnuts as a partner to the apple. Nutmeg, cinnamon and mace are common spices to use when cooking apples, or you can use thyme, orange peel and cardamom for a more modern flavor profile. If you want to change the appearance, but not the flavor, opt for pie crust on the bottom and cover the filling with streusel. Now you have the ultimate Brown Betty.
You can never put too much thought into making an updated yet memorable apple pie that your customers will undoubtedly appreciate. But don't totally abandon the old-fashioned recipe¯it is an American classic that deserves the same historical prominence as baseball and hotdogs.
Poach the apple halves in the caramel juice until completely cooked.
After cooling overnight, drain the apples on a rack until they stop dripping.
Cut the apple halves into 1/6-in. slices.
Place the apples into acetate-lined, individual-size round moulds.
Fill the moulds about 1/2 way with Bavarian cream on top of the apples. Place the frozen praline crðme caramel over the cream, cover with the remaining Bavarian cream, and freeze.
Remove the tarts from the moulds. Place them onto sable cookies, and cover with streusel. Dust the tops with confectioners' sugar, and garnish with a dried apple chip and spices.
Apple Tart Moderne
(Yields 16 tarts)
|Vanilla Bavarian cream|
|Vanilla paste||5 g||1 tsp.|
|Egg yolks||105 g||3.7|
|Heavy cream||175 g||6|
|Whipped cream||420 g||14.8|
|Total appr. wt.||995.5 g||2||2.5|
|Method: Mix the vanilla paste with the cream and milk. Bring it to a boil. Temper some of the hot milk mixture with the yolks and sucrose. Add the tempered yolks to the remaining milk mixture, and heat to 179°F (82°C). Add the bloomed gelatin, strain, and cool over an ice bath while mixing. Fold in the whipped cream when the mixture cools to 77ºF (25°C).|
|Tatin-style poached apples|
|Braeburn apple juice, freshly made||1.5 kg||3||5|
|Lemon juice, organic, freshly squeezed||20 g||.07|
|Tahitian vanilla bean, 1|
|Fleur de sel (sea salt)||2 g||1/2 tsp.|
|Total appr. wt.||2.022 kg||4||7.3|
|Braeburn apples, 6|
| Method: |
A. Cooking Tatin juice: Run enough Braeburn apples through a juice extractor to achieve 1.5 kg of juice. Add the lemon juice to the apple juice, and set aside. Cook the sucrose to the caramel stage, and deglaze with the apple juice. Add the vanilla and fleur de sel.
B. Poached Apples: Peel six Braeburn apples. Cut the apples in half lengthwise, and remove the core, preserving the natural shape of the apples. Place the apples in a sauce pan to preserve their shape, cover with the Tatin cooking juice, and poach at 275ºF for about four hours. Turn the apples every hour to achieve a uniform color and even poaching. Remove the apples from the stove, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the apples to cool overnight in the cooking liquid.
|Hazelnut & fleur de sel crumble|
|Butter, 82% fat||216 g||7.6|
|Fleur de sel (sea salt)||3 g||1/2 tsp.|
|Hazelnut powder, with skin||240 g||8.5|
|Pastry flour||216 g||7.6|
|Hazelnuts, crushed with skin||150 g||5.3|
|Total appr. wt.||1.041 kg||2||4.6|
|Method: Combine the first five ingredients in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix slowly until desired streusel size is achieved, and add the crushed hazelnuts. Allow the streusel to rest in the cooler overnight. Bake it in a 325ºF deck oven, vent open, inside a ring to preserve its shape. Once golden brown, remove from the oven, and allow the crumble to cool.|
|Praline crème caramel|
|Whole egg||175 g||6|
|Vanilla bean, 1/2 a bean|
|Lemon zest, 1/2 a lemon|
|Total appr. wt.||825 g||1||12.8|
|Method: Prepare a dry caramel by adding small amounts of sugar to a hot pot. Mix until the sugar melts after each addition. Continue the process until all the sugar is melted and is a golden brown color. Pour the dry caramel into flexible silicone moulds that are 1/8-in. deep and 2 ins. in diameter. Prepare the crème caramel by mixing the egg, vanilla, sucrose and praline. Bring the milk and lemon zest to a boil, and pour it over the crème caramel. Allow it to infuse, and pour it into the moulds on top of the dry caramel.|
|Butter, 82% fat||120 g||4.2|
|Confectioners’ sugar||50 g||1.75|
|Sea salt||2 g||1/2 tsp.|
|Almond TPT (powder)||50 g||1.75|
|Vanilla extract||2 g||1/2 tsp.|
|Egg yolk||55 g||2|
|Cake flour||200 g||7|
|Total appr. wt.||479 g||1||1|
|Method: Sand the butter with the cake flour and salt. Add the almond TPT and confectioners’ sugar. Gradually add the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours. Sheet the dough to the desired thickness. Cut out cookies with a cutter of your choice, or use the dough to make a tart shell. Egg wash the cookies, and let them rest for 30 minutes. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes in a 300°F (148°C) convection oven with the vent open or a 325°F (168°C) deck oven with the vent open. Store the finished product in the freezer or in an airtight container with limestone.|
Chef John Kraus , pastry chef and instructor at The French Pastry School at City Colleges of Chicago, teaches his students the art of pastry that includes advanced bread techniques. In 2005 and 2006, Chef Kraus was named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in the United States by a national pastry magazine. For more information on The French Pastry School, visit www.frenchpastryschool.com