Making a French apple tart and having it look perfect has always been a dream of mine. I’ve never tackled it because I always thought it was above my skill level. But, I was recently asked by the good folk who are responsible for Australia’s Kanzi Apple season to develop a recipe for them using these delicious apples, so I thought it might be time to investigate exactly what it takes to make the perfect French apple tart.
A little about Kanzi apples though. If you thought an apple was an apple, then think again. The rise of food culture globally has led to a number of new breeds of apples being available to consumers who demand variety and quality. Kanzi is that quality apple that you may have been searching for without even knowing you were. It is a natural cross between a juicy Gala apple and a tangy sweet Braeburn, and while it is an incredible crisp and delicious eating apple, it is absolutely beautiful for sweet treats. It cooks very well, holding its shape while simultaneously retaining juiciness.
The Kanzi season here in Australia lasts but 12 short weeks, and the good news is that yesterday was the official start of the season. What you might not know is that the Kanzi is the third best selling apple in the world, and the good news for us is that in Australia it comes direct from Australian growers and is never frozen or stored.
So, what are you waiting for? Given Kanzi apples have arrived just in the nick of time for Easter, why not make this impressive tart for your Easter celebrations.
Back to the tart. Looks difficult right? Well its really not, and this one is made even easier because I’m not even going to make you make the pastry – I mean, sure, if you want to make the pastry… do it! But let me tell you, I didn’t. I bought a really good quality vanilla bean shortcrust (this pastry from Careme) and I concentrated on the apples.
Now, there are a few ways to make a French apple tart. Some simply layer the apple straight on the tart case and bake from there, but others make an applesauce (stewed and pureed apples) and spread that on the base before layering the apples. For me, the applesauce was a necessity as it would form the cornerstone of the tart and allow me to include more apples.
I’m not one for super sweet desserts as I prefer to let the natural sweetness of ingredients shine through rather than pile on the sugar. But, I am open to a bit of experimentation, so the inclusion of a fresh herb like thyme, that is more related to savory cooking than sweet, is a wonderful way to surprise the palate of your guests – pleasantly surprise them. Trust me, this is a delicious addition that provides another subtle note to the tart.
- Use a good quality store bought pastry and focus on the layered apples being the star.
- Don’t peel or cut your apples until all other elements are prepared, you don’t want your apples to discolour prior to the bake.
- For apple tart perfection, use a mandoline to slice your apples as they will all be cut to exactly the same width providing a uniform look, and it will be super fast.
- You only want to cook your tart until the apple slices are tender and cooked through.
- When cutting the tart to serve, I suggest using a bread knife or other serrated knife as it will cut through the apples better without damaging their arrangement on top of the tart.
Kanzi French Apple and Thyme Tart
- 4 Kanzi apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 x 435g packed frozen vanilla bean shortcrust pastry, thawed overnight in the fridge*
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons applesauce
- 4 Kanzi apples
- 4 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam
Preheat oven to 180° Celsius (350° Fahrenheit).
Line a removable bottom tart tin with your pastry, ensuring you leave a little extra around the edges for shrinkage then place in the fridge for 30 minutes for the pastry to rest.
Prepare the applesauce by combining apples, water, lemon juice and thyme leaves in a medium saucepan and placing over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce to medium heat, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes until the apples have softened. Add lemon zest, caster sugar and vanilla bean paste and stir till well combined. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, puree in a blender and set aside.
Remove the rested pastry from the fridge, line with baking paper and add baking weights on top (or rice, or dried chickpeas). Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges of the pastry are golden. Remove the baking paper and weights and brush the base with egg (this will ensure the base is crisp). Return to the oven and bake for another 7 minutes or until the pastry base is golden, then set aside to cool.
Spread 3 tablespoons of the applesauce evenly of the base of the tart. Peel and quarter the apples, then remove the core and very thinly slice them (we have not done this earlier as the apples would have discoloured). Arrange the apple slices upright and around the edge of the tart, overlapping each slightly. When you get to the first apple slice, just continue along in front of the outside apples circling in right to the centre of the tart. As you get closer to the middle, you will need to use the smallest and thinnest slices until you cover the middle.
Sprinkle the tart with the thyme leaves and caster sugar and bake for 20 minutes or until the tart case is golden and the apples are softened. Heat the apricot jam with 1 tablespoon water in the microwave for 20 seconds, then brush apples with the jam until the apples are glistening and serve.
*I use Careme Traditional Pastry found at specialty grocers
Chew Town would like to acknowledge its partnership with Kanzi Apples for this post. You can read Chew Town’s disclosure statement here for more information on brands that Chew Town chooses to work with and why. The recipe above was created, developed and photographed by Chew Town using Kanzi Apples. Kanzi Apples can be found in Australia at Woolworths, Costco, IGA Australia, Aldi Australia and specialty growers.