My partner, Wouter (pronounced: Wow-ter) is a man of many talents. One of those talents is that he trained as a pastry chef long ago in Amsterdam. It took some time for me to find this out. But one day a few years ago he suddenly made an Appeltaart for a dinner party we were having! Who knew? It had a deliciously tender crust (no soggy bottom), the apples were tender-crisp, with a wonderful cinnamony-not to sweet taste. In other words, what an apple tart should be in all ways.
Each occasion , for special dinners or to take to friend’s houses, that he has made this wonderfully perfect dessert he has done it so “swiftly & deftly” that I have never actually seen him do it. He assembles his ingredients & the next thing I know there it is ready for the oven. It’s like stealth baking…each time I question him about how he does it he just smiles.
The basic recipe comes from a cooking book he brought with him when he moved to the US, but he works from his quickly hand-written version stuck inside. This week he decided to make his Appeltaart for a dear friend who is recovering from surgery. He agreed to let me both photo the process and blog about it so here is a step-by-step how-to for making “Wouter’s Appeltaart”….a great Dutch treat.
1.5 cups All-Purpose Flour; 7 ozs butter (chilled & cut into chunks); 1/2 cup Caster Sugar (or regular sugar if you cannot find, we will talk more about Caster sugar later); 1 chilled egg (divided – yolk in one bowl, white in another). (The original recipe called for a “little drip of salt”, but this version has no salt in it.); 4 or 5 medium to small crisp tart apples; a shaker of ground cinnamon (no exact amount)…
Add cold butter to flour in bowl quickly working together with fingers.
Add egg yolk. With fingers work into flour-butter.
Wouter uses the butter wrapper to grease the 9″ springform pan. No waste! Lightly floured with excess shaken out of pan.
Crust quickly patted into bottom and slightly up sides of pan. Wouter keeps his fingers floured as he works. Set aside while prepping apples.
Wouter patiently, but swiftly, peeled 4 Gala apples creating 4 whole strands of apple peel! This I cannot do. My peels are always choppy & in parts. His peels were beautiful. Hmmmm. I wonder if apple peeling reflects personalities? Alas, I think so.
Product Note: This Leifheit corer is absolutely the best. A German company that makes great, useful kitchen gadgets, also sold in the US. For retailers go to: http://www.leifheitus.com. It has a nice grip for coring and is hinged so you can easily remove the core.
Cored apples cut into quarters & thinly sliced. Half of slices layered in bottom of springform pan & sprinkled with a couple of tablespoons of Caster Sugar. A dusting of cinnamon powder sprinkled over apple slices. Repeat layering with remaining apples, additional sugar & cinnamon.
Now to Caster Sugar. For a few years Wouter would describe a sugar he liked to use for his Appeltaart and I could not figure out what it was. Finally I decided it must be something close to Superfine Cane -Caster Sugar. I found some at Whole Foods, India Tree Brand and it worked great. Not as fine as powdered sugar & not as granulated as regular white sugar. It doesn’t leave any sugary-grittiness to desserts. I am not quite sure it is what he used in The Netherlands, but close to it.
Rolling, flipping, adding more flour & then cutting into strips. He uses his fingers to evenly measure each strip.
Creating lattice, brushing on egg white….it’s ready for a preheated 375 degree oven.