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This is not your grandmother’s apple pie.

Unless, you know, your grandmother’s French. Then, maybe it is.

French Apple Tart

French Apple Tart

I’ll be honest, I’m having a rough day. Except it started last night with my undercooked hamburgers, so I’ve had a rough 16 hours? And this morning, I discovered that the kittens have tapeworms in addition to all their other lovely issues. Also, I didn’t sleep well, and the sink is full of dishes, and the dishwasher is already pretty much full and -

Yeah, I’m just not much into this blog post. Part of the problem is that I’m not much into this tart.

I mean, it’s okay. It’s good. It’s sweet and apple-y, and that’s nice.

But, it was not the best apple tart I’ve ever had. I’ve had apple pies way better too. This one was just . . . meh.

Let’s start with the crust.

I do love this pie crust. I love that the recipe makes enough for four single-crust pies. You take the one you need and stick it in the fridge to chill, then you bag the other three up and put ‘em in the freezer for up to a month. It works well for pot pies and quiches, and that’s usually what I use them for. They bake up perfectly, flaky and wonderful, just the way a pie crust should be. I’ve tried several pie crust recipes, but this one is consistently the best I’ve ever made. And because I’m now using a non-hydrogenated shortening, I feel a little bit better about using it freely in this recipe.

I love cutting butter into flour. It's such a fun exercise. This recipe calls for a stick and a half of butter, followed by nearly 2 cups of shortening, so it's a lot of arm work.

I love cutting butter into flour. It’s such a fun exercise. This recipe calls for a stick and a half of butter, followed by nearly 2 cups of shortening, so it’s a lot of arm work.

I also kinda enjoy rolling out pie crust. I love how you can see fat chunks in this dough. I'm not sure if it's supposed to look like that or not, but they melt away in the oven and taste delicious!

I also kinda enjoy rolling out pie crust. I love how you can see fat chunks in this dough. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to look like that or not, but they melt away in the oven and taste delicious!

While the dough was chilling in fridge, I worked on part one of the tart filling.

Here’s the thing. If there are “parts” to a tart, I’m probably not going to be overly happy with it. I really think tarts should be simple: crust + filling. I’m not even overly fond of double-crusted pies. Crust + filling. Possibly a topping, so long as it’s simple. Like a crumb topping. My favorite apple pie has a simple crumb topping over a cinnamon-apple filling. It takes half the time of this tart and tastes twice as good.

Right. This French tart. The filling involves peeling, coring, and cutting up apples, tossing them with a sugar and bread crumb mixture, and baking them until they can be mashed.

After being baked, the apples smell absolutely heavenly, which maybe caused higher expectations.

After being baked, the apples smell absolutely heavenly, which maybe caused higher expectations.

This tasted great straight out of the oven.

The pie crust is then pre-baked and cooled, then the apple mash goes into the crust. Then more apples are sliced and arranged over the filling. I hate arranging apples slices on pies. The circles never come out evenly. That’s why I like crumble toppings. You can just throw that on there, and nobody will know your circles aren’t straight.

Melted butter is brushed over top, followed by a sprinkling of sugar, and then it gets baked again.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream would not have been a bad thing.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream would not have been a bad thing.

I just wasn’t impressed. Maybe it’s because I’m from the South and I’ve eaten some terrific apple pies in my life. Maybe it’s because after the hamburger incident, I got all depressed and lost interest in everything for the rest of the night. Maybe it’s because the apple-bread crumb filling kinda lost its appeal after being baked in the crust. It just tasted like . . . well, like applesauce in a pie crust.

Just meh.

Geordie and I each had a piece for dessert, and I gave him the last few bites of mine. There’s still more than half of it left in the fridge, and I’m not desperate to slice myself another piece for lunch. If it’s calling my name, I’m not hearing it.

Sorry, folks, this one didn’t win me over. I’ve had better.

But, it could just be me. A lot of the other Dorie bakers liked this one, so if you’re interested, check out our host at Laws of the Kitchen for the recipe. Or if you’d like to see how the other bakers felt about this tart, check out the links. They did make some beautiful tarts!

Happy baking!

Last week was a bad week. Friday, in particular, was a bad day. On Saturday, I set about putting myself in a better mood by baking some cupcakes. No, not just “some” cupcakes. A lot of cupcakes. By the end of the night, I had over 50 iced cupcakes.

But that includes a batch of cupcakes I’d made earlier in the week. A Japanese-inspired cupcake using mochiko (rice flour) and koshi-an (smooth sweet red bean paste) and topped with frosting flavored with kinako (soy bean powder).

I love these cupcakes, but that’s not surprising, because I love all of the flavors that went into it. They’re all classic Japanese sweets flavors that you can’t readily find in the States. Rice flour gives the cupcake a chewier texture, making for a different mouthfeel. The cake itself isn’t very sweet, so the paste filling (which melted nicely) lends a sweetness to it. Likewise, the frosting is cream cheese based, so it’s more tangy than sweet. Overall, it’s probably the least sweet cupcake I’ve made, which makes for a nice change.

Unfortunately, the recipe made about 30 cupcakes, which was about twice as many as I needed. Even more unfortunately, they don’t stay fresh for very long. I think that might be the rice flour that does that.

But after Friday, I needed more baking. Lots of baking. I’d been wanting to play around with classic flavors, so that’s what I did. I made a classic white cake, a classic yellow cake, and a decadent devil’s food cake.

White cake is kinda tricky, I think. For one thing, you gotta have cake flour. For another thing, it does require something more vigorous than hand-mixing. I mix almost everything by hand (simply because I hate dirtying something unnecessarily), but white cake has to be perfectly smooth and that’s hard to get done. Although these cupcakes came out pretty well, I’m probably not going to do any more white cake until I have a hand-mixer to work with.

I topped the white cupcakes with a root beer buttercream. I wanted to play with flavors a bit and bring something to the white cake that wouldn’t completely overwhelm it. It came out pretty nicely. I’ll likely do a root beer cupcake in the future, just to see how it works out.

Then I made a yellow cake. I love yellow cake. It is quite possibly my favorite flavor of cake, especially when paired with chocolate frosting, which is exactly what I did. I used Ghirardelli milk chocolate, which gave the frosting such a delicious smell. It’s a good base frosting that could be used with whatever chocolate you like.

Because I still had vanilla frosting left-over from my Easter cupcakes, I wanted to use that up on a different chocolate cake. I found a devil’s food cake recipe using buttermilk and coffee, both of which punch up the flavor and keep the cake moist and decadent.

This cake is beyond delicious. I know I said I like yellow cake best, but this cake presents a challenge. Especially when paired with a dollop of that sweet vanilla frosting. Definitely a keeper.

And after all that baking . . . I felt better. Accomplished, in a way. True, I had way more cupcakes than I could ever consume, but I felt a little less useless, a feeling that has been plaguing me since Lauren died. That, in and of itself, is success, as far as I’m concerned.

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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