Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie - Tarte Fine

In the summer of 2008, I learned of Tuesdays with Dorie, an extraordinary group (led by Laurie of slush) working their way through Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I loved all the recipes I saw them making, and it sounded like such fun. The problem was, you had to have a blog to join and I hardly knew what a blog was. Nonetheless, I resolved to join as soon as my new kitchen was completed. But before the kitchen project even began, Laurie announced she was closing the membership of the group at the end of the following month. Panicked, I quizzed savvy (younger) coworkers, and my blog was born.

Fast forward to July 2010. We were picking dates for our vacation and M. pretended to be astonished that I would schedule our vacation around my turn to pick the recipe. Since I thought my turn would fall the first week of October, we decided on mid-October. Imagine my surprise to get an email from Laurie telling me I'd be the host this week. It was time to pick the recipe the group would make.

I knew my ideal pick would be one that had no chocolate (shockingly, since chocolate is a favorite) so that my friend Kayte could enjoy making and eating it. It would have no nuts, since so many of my fellow bloggers (or their kids) don't like nuts. Ditto coconut. It wouldn't have ingredients that are out of season for bakers in the southern hemisphere. There would be no custard, caramel or pie crust to stress out those who feel angst over these things. It would photograph well. It would be easy, not requiring expensive ingredients. And it would be delicious. So I chose tarte fine.

What could be easier? Frozen puff pastry, sliced apples, a squeeze of lemon and a bit of sugar, cream and egg and it's in the oven. It looks impressive, tastes fabulous, and carries you away to Paris. Which is where we'll be vacationing next month. We'll stock up on memories, buy many pastries at Pierre Herme, indulge in our favorite treats at La Maison du Chocolat, fill up on pain Poilane and their punitions, nut oils from J. LeBlanc (I'll definitely be trying the pistachio oil), fresh Maille mustards... And we'll surely have this tart in various guises.

The recipe truly couldn't be easier. Here are my suggestions:
  • Unless your kitchen is very warm, get the puff pastry out and let it defrost as you peel and slice the apples. If your kitchen is hot, peel and slice the apples, toss them with a squeeze of lemon, then get out the puff pastry. 
  • I rolled my puff pastry on a Silpat with a sheet of parchment on top. That way, I didn't roll flour into the puff pastry. It's also easier clean up (laziness is one of my primary drivers). Don't think that the paper that separates the pieces of puff pastry is parchment and you can roll with that. Not that I made that mistake. Well, just once.
  • As you roll the puff pastry, start from the middle and roll out toward the edge, but don't roll over the edge repeatedly. You want the pastry to puff around the edges and if it's been compressed by the rolling pin you'll get less lift.
  • Move the puff pastry to a sheet pan before arranging the apples.
  • I made the tart once with Golden Delicious apples, which Dorie recommends, and once with Gala apples. My Galas were a bit mealy and I had a lot of angst over using them. But they melted into the pastry and the mealiness was not detectable.  My tasters liked the tart with Golden Delicious apples but LOVED the one with the Galas. Use whatever apples you like and adjust the sugar accordingly.
  • The love of the Gala apple tart may have something to do with using Dorie's playing around suggestion for a sweeter tart: bits of butter, then a sprinkling of sugar on the pastry before arranging the apples. Then brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more sugar. Delicious! 
  • I didn't glaze either of my tarts, and nobody seemed to mind. The tart I made with the Golden Delicious apples (no butter) could have used a glaze but the version with butter didn't need it.
  • If you live close to a Trader Joe's, rejoice! After 18 months of no puff pastry, they are finally stocking their excellent all-butter puff pastry again.
  • Although apples are the classic topping for this tart, it should work equally well with any fruit that isn't excessively wet, such as pears or apricots.
  • The technique can be just as easily used for savory tarts. Instead of dotting the puff pastry with butter, brush on a little pesto (basil or sun-dried tomato) and top with sliced Roma tomatoes, slivered basil and a sprinkling of cheese, or sliced artichoke hearts, olives and roasted red peppers.

Getting to pick the recipe was an emotional experience for me.  This group, this cookbook, its author, and my fellow TWD bloggers all mean the world to me. Dorie is always with me in the kitchen. I imagine her calm, encouraging voice giving advice and reassurance when I need it most. Because of her book I have grown so much as a baker and tried things I never would have attempted before. Dorie, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this cookbook. The recipes I've tried from Around My French Table have exceeded my expectations. French Fridays with Dorie will be a new adventure, and I know you'll be there with me, calmly guiding and encouraging me.

This is Pearl, my co-author

Tarte Fine - makes 6 servings
Printer-friendly recipe

Dorie says: In France, tarte fine is a chic, slender tart made from a slim layer of puff pastry topped with paper-thin slices of apple. In this country, it is often called apple pizza, a name that aptly describes the tart's looks, but not its elegance. In the end, the name is thoroughly unimportant--it's the taste and texture that mean something, and this tart gets a perfect score on those counts.

This tart is an easy treat to put together on short notice, since all it requires is store-bought puff pastry, a couple of apples, an egg, sugar and 15 minutes or less of active cutting and arranging.

The tart can be made with any sweet but lightly acidic apple, but I always make it with firm Golden Delicious apples, because they are most like the apples used for a tarte fine in France.

Note:  Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets are available in every supermarket across the country. However, I can't encourage you enough to search out an all-butter puff pastry at a local specialty store. If the store doesn't carry frozen all-butter puff pastry, perhaps it will order it for you. The pastry I buy--which is so good I stopped making puff pastry at home--is made by Dufour pastry.

3 medium-size firm sweet apples, preferably Golden Delicious
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 sheet (about 8 ounces) frozen puff pastry, preferably all butter (see above), thawed
2 teaspoons milk or heavy cream
1 large egg, beaten with about 1/2 teaspoon water, for egg wash
3-4 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup apricot jam, for glazing

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel the apples, slice them in half lengthwise and core them. Cut the apples halves in half again and cut about 7 lengthwise slices from each quarter. Put the slices into a bowl and toss them with the lemon juice.

On a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, roll the sheet of puff pastry out into a rectangle that is about 9 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches. If the dough is warm, cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes. If it's still cool, just lift the paper or mat and place it on a baking sheet. Arrange the apple slices in slightly overlapping rows on the pastry, making sure to leave a border of 1/4 to 1/2 inch bare. Brush the borders lightly with the milk or cream, then brush the egg wash over the apple slices. Sprinkle the apples and the borders with the sugar.

Bake the tart for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden around the edges and the apples are soft and brown at the borders. Remove from the oven. If you want the edges of the apples to be even darker, you can run the tart under the broiler; be very careful not to overbake the pastry border. (To avoid burning the edges, you can cover the perimeter of the tart with aluminum foil.)

Boil the jam with a smidgen of water until it liquifies, then brush the glaze over the apples (if the jam has any chunks of apricot in it, avoid them).

Serve the tart hot or warm.

Playing Around:
If you'd like a sweeter tart, before you arrange the apple layer, scatter 2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits, over the pastry rectangle and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons sugar. Omit the egg wash, and once the apples are in place, brush them with 3-4 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with about 3 tablespoons sugar. Bake and glaze the tart as directed.


  1. This looks SO good! Congratulations on hosting the recipe this week. And enjoy Paris -- it's a wonderful city!

  2. Thanks for hosting us this week Leslie. It's been great to get to know you through TWD. Your tart looks delicious. And off to Paris - lucky you!

  3. I love that you were going to schedule your vacation around your hosting week! Such a true TWDer! :D

    This was one of my favourites. So simple and so delicious. Thanks for a great pick! How exciting that you're going to Paris! :D

    p.s. Love your co-author.

  4. Beautiful tart.

    Fabulous pick.

    Thanks, it was great.

  5. Leslie yours looks great. Love how brown yours got. Maybe I didn't cook mine long enough. It was sort of soggy to me. But my husband loved it!! Thanks for a wonderful easy pick this week. I love anything apple.

  6. Perfect recipe. Thanks so much for choosing it. Your blog is always a delight!

  7. Awesome pick, Leslie! I'll have to make it again soon so I can try the butter/sugar version--I missed that variation somehow. I hope you guys have a wonderful vacation!

  8. Thanks for hosting this week, and for the perfect pick too! It was delicious, and I was (pleasantly) surprised that there was no chocolate involved.

  9. Great pick Leslie! Yours looks delicious. This will be a go-to apple dessert around here!

  10. A wonderful choice! And I quite agree that it feels like Dorie is in the kitchen! I had the great pleasure of meeting her in Kingston, Ontario this past Sunday at the first stop on her book tour. I think we should plan a big TWD event sometime--it would be terrific to meet everybody!

  11. Thank you SO much Leslie, for this amazing pick! Who knew that something so simple would be so memorable? And tasty to boot?! I love stopping by your blog and seeing what you're up to :)

    Ps. Can I mention how jealous I am of your vacay to Paris? Stow away? ;)

  12. Wonderful choice this week! Loved every bite and your co-author is just as adorable. I hope you enjoy every minute in Paris! =)

  13. I love your post about this tart. It has been such a fun group to be a part of! :) You tarte looks lovely, mine....not so much. More like epic fail... I probably should have read your comments first.

  14. I wish I had your suggestions before I made this. You did a beautiful job guiding us.

    I like the way your apples browned. It adds to the look.

    Have a wonderful trip to France and bring us back lots of memories and photos. (if you have time)

  15. Thanks for hosting this week! Enjoy Paris... I loved it there and want to go back if for nothing other than the food! :)

  16. so simple and delicious--thanks for the pick! you will have such a great time eating your way around paris!

  17. You're so nice to pick something so accommodating to so many, even Kayte, our resident chocolate dis-liker. ;)
    I did think you'd have picked something with chocolate.
    Nevertheless, GREAT pick.

  18. Leslie - what a wonderfully simple dessert! Tarts usually scare me, but I was "fine" with this one! Vive Paris! Enjoy yourself - thanks for a great pick!

    TWD blog

  19. I couldn't let you down, Leslie, so I baked the tart this morning. It's just slightly cooler today than yesterday. I'll probably nibble away at it all afternoon.

    Have a great time in Paris! It's one of my favorite cities.

  20. This looks so elegant...not to mention delicious! I think you made a great choice! I'm looking forward to trying it (and to trying some recipes from the new book!)

  21. Beautiful tarte! I loved this choice. Apples and fall just go hand in hand!

  22. What a simple but elegant looking tart. Great choice and how considerate of you!! (Your kitchen looks beautiful, btw, and I agree with all your notes). Have fun in Paris, mon amie. And have a safe trip, iA.

  23. I, too, love this tarte and I'm delighted you picked it -- also a little surprised that it was still left to be picked. : - )

    But what I really love is the way a community has grown out of TWD and how so many members have become better bakers by baking together. It is an extraordinary group and it's wonderful that you joined early and stayed with it.

    I hope you'll enjoy your time in Paris -- but it's impossible not to, of course.

  24. lovely tart puff pastries look delicious

  25. What a sweet comment by Dorie. I spend so much time in her cookbook I feel like Dorie is my best friend.
    I love your blog Leslie and appreciate the comments you so kindly leave on my blog.
    This recipe was a great pick, we loved it! I'm going to try a savory tart with homemade pesto.
    Have a wonderful vacation!

  26. Hi Pearl & Leslie,
    Very nice post from the both of you.... :")
    I'm so glad you decided to launch into the blog abyss
    with all the rest of us trying to stay in business. Enjoy your wonderful trip. I'm going to the kitchen right now to grab my "not" all butter puff pastry (shucks) from Pepperidge Farms. No TJ's here. Lovely Tart Fine, Leslie.

    btw lovely comment from Dorie as well.

  27. Congrats on your hosting week. You picked a winner...a simple, hip, elegant winner. I am so excited you are going to paris and I want you to blog all about it..I am going next May and I am already excited just thinking about it.

  28. first, thank you for hosting! i am so glad i found such an easy and yummy apple recipe :)

    second, enjoy paris! i am SO jealous that you get to go and enjoy all the yummy food there. send me an email and i will try to dig up my list from dorie of her favorite eateries in paris :)

  29. Leslie, you are such a gracious hostess: choosing a recipe that is elegant yet effortless, and giving us wonderful tips so that we can bake perfect tarts just like yours! This ended up being a great recipe for a busy week. As I'm writing my post we have yet another tarte fine in the oven!

  30. looks wonderful came over from Mimis blog

  31. Thanks for hosting, Leslie! This tart was delicious and I so enjoyed making it. U must be getting excited for Paris!!! I know you will have a blast! I am jealous!

  32. Thanks for such a great pick Leslie! How exciting that you are going to Paris, this certainly got me in the mood for French baked goods. Enjoy your trip!

  33. Thanks for hosting this week Leslie - this tart was a hit at my house! I appreciate all the helpful tips in your post as well :)

  34. Oh we loved this leslie! You put such thought into the choice and it was perfect. Can't wait to hear more about your paris trip!

  35. Excellent choice, Leslie. Great reasons for choosing this recipe and perfect for the start of fall. You were one of the first people to stop by my blog when I joined TWD and I always enjoy your posts.

    So if you're going to Paris in the middle of October, does that mean you'll miss Dorie's appearance in the Bay Area? She's going to be at Omnivore Books on October 16th!

  36. C'est vraiment jolie!
    I love your tart, particularly the elegant little strips of apple.

  37. You picked an excellent recipe! M husband usually does not like tarts but this one he gobbled right on down! I loved it too!
    Your last picture with the golden crispy edge and those yummy apples is my favorite!!
    Thanks for being the hostess with the mostest!!:)))

  38. Excellent choice and excellent post this week! Thank you for all the puff pastry tips too. I had pesto on puff pastry once and it was heavenly!

    Shortly after I made my puff pastry, I got an email from Trader Joe's advertising their puff pastry for $3.99. Well, it's better that I wasn't tempted, because I really did want to make it myself at least once!

    Have an absolutely fabulous time in Paris!

  39. thanks for a perfect pick! your tart looks gorgeous!

  40. Great pick for fall baking! I wish I was still baking with you all. One day, I will pick back up. Just wanted to take time to say hello!

  41. Hi Leslie =)

    Your tart looks amazing....such a beautiful color on the puff pastry. I enjoyed reading your story on how you got started with TWD group. I have the book and will definitely give this a try since you made it sound so easy =)

  42. Delicious!!! So simple yet so good!

  43. Thank you for picking the perfect apple dessert! And how jealous we all are of your upcoming Paris trip. Your tart looks wonderful.

  44. It looks delicious, so beautifully browned at the edges.

  45. This was a beautiful post. I know just what you mean about the TWD community--I never would have met so many wonderful people (and been the semi-regular blogger that I am!) without TWD, and I CERTAINLY wouldn't have made so many delicious recipes! Thanks for a wonderful pick. And enjoy Paris! That's a dream destination for sure.

  46. Dearest Leslie, I'm finally gettig to you ! I love Pearl, she looks very sweet, the suggestion for a tomato tarte is fantastic and I shoul hurry up and make it with the last good ones. Thak you for hosting of course but mostly for your friendship ! Love and baci

  47. Thanks so much for hosting this week Leslie! Your selection was wonderful in every way - so easy to make and even more delicious to eat :) Your tips are perfect, and it was so thoughtful of you to write such a detailed post.

    Have a wonderful time in Paris! I've been trying to convince my husband to take me for a while...guess I'll just have to live vicariously through you for now!

  48. Leslie..that is one beautiful tarte fine. I always love making these because I consider it so 'fresh' in the way it's pastry, apples an whatever amount of sugar or spice you want to add. Yours looks exquisite and I want a bite now!

    That said, thanks for the heads up on these ebay 'thieves' lol I swear, it drove me crazy!! I could never get a bid in that quick with 1 second to go. At least I now know they use programs to do it! It's happened so many times, I thought I was losing my mind lol

  49. Sorry I missed this one. Looks like a bookmark for a later baking. Yum!

  50. So glad to have discovered your blog. It's yummy and I will enjoy reading the posts along with the delicious pictures.

  51. I love all of thought you put into your recipe selection. It was perfect in it's simple elegance and delicious flavor.

  52. Great-looking tart! And thanks for the Trader Joe's tip. I once made puff pastry for a Daring Baker's challenge and it was fun to do it once, but I haven't done it since. lol

  53. I have been set to make this dozens of times this week and every single time, life interferes. I am definitely making it tomorrow as I figure it will be just the thing for the guys arrival back home from the Denver trip, don't you. It looks just wonderful, all our favorite ingredients...apples, butter, dough, sugar, lemon, what's NOT TO LOVE?? Thanks for the non-chocolate pick, btw...things like that separate my really good friends from just my good friends...LOL. I am still laughing about you choosing vacation time around the TWD pick week...too funny. M must think we are all nuts!! Going to love this one, I can just tell, thanks!

  54. Your tart looks divine! I'm so sorry I was unable to bake along with your selection! It just didn't work out...but I guess I'd better try it soon. Looks so good.