I’m a great believer in having a couple of culinary specialities up your sleeve that you can make standing on your head and everyone oohs and ahs about. It doesn’t even matter if you always serve up the same thing to the same people because they usually look forward to it. Jean Michel’s great specialty is his thin-crust apple tart.
The first time I ate it was when he invited me to dinner at his place for the first time. He’s convinced it’s low calorie. I’m not so sure about that, but it’s definitely delicious. I have never learnt to make it – I would hate to rob him of his fame (and it would also mean I’d find myself making it more often than him!). Also, I don’t think I have the patience to cut the apple thinly enough.
I once helped him in the early days of our acquaintance and I could see I was not doing it the right way. So I bowed out gracefully and left him to get on with it.
Here’s the recipe :
Ingredients:250 g of plain flour (we only have unbleached) 1 to 2 g of ground Guérande sea salt (that is the only type he likes!) 30 g of fine brown sugar 100 to 150 g of butter 1 egg 3 to 4 large Golden Delicious apples (or any other non-floury apple)
1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl
2. Scrape the butter into the bowl with a serrated edge knife
3. Incorporate with the finger tips
4. Create a well in the middle and break in the egg
5. Blend well with the fingertips
6. Add a little water depending on the moistness of the flour
7. Form a uniform ball and put in a cool place for at least 30 minutes but preferably several hours
8. Place the dough on a marble plaque and press it into a circle by working around it
9. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin first from the outside in, then from the inside out until it forms a circle with a diameter of 38 to 40 cm
10. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and place gently onto a 35 cm shallow anodised aluminium tart plate.
11. Prick the bottom with a fork
12. Turn the edge over
13. Create a decorative edge with a fork
14. Harden the tart shell in a 220°C oven for 2 minutes
15. Spread a thin layer of apple compote on the bottom of the shell
16. Carefully eel and slice the apple thinly and evenly
17. Overlap the apple slices to form a pattern
18. Make the rosette in the middle and sprinkle lightly with sugar
19. Cook in a 220°C oven for 20 to 30 minutes.