Down at the farm, Domain Duclos Fougeray yesterday, the trees were bare of their apples. Only last week the orchards were heady with the scent of thousands of apples, Yesterday the you would have been forgiven for feeling drunk with the scent of them all in the cider sheds. Production of cider, Pommeau and Calvados was underway!
Pommeau is a smooth blend of 1/3 Calvados (apple brandy) and 2/3 apple juice aged in oak barrels, resulting in a sherry/port-like alcohol at 18% and is for me “normandy in a glass”!
From the cosy warmth of the “degustation”(tasting) barn the conversation soon became passionate about the perfect marriage of those drinks with typical Norman specialities, and it wasn’t long before we succumbed to the heavenly combination of a traditional Tarte aux Pommes (apple tart) with a smooth warming glass of Pommeau.
Having tried the farm’s hand-made bite-sized apple tarts, I knew I would have to learn how to make them. And then a wonderful neighbour taught me all I needed to know about this not so humble desert, and from so few ingredients, the sublime taste is worth its weight in gold.
The farm makes its own organic apple and cinnamon purée which is heaven in a jar, but it’s easy to make back home.
Follow the recipe below to make a traditional Tarte aux Pommes with crispy caramelized pastry.
Take a pie sized circle of puff pastry, 5 Royal Gala apples or similar for the tart, and another 5 sweet apples and cinnamon to make a purée of apples. Enjoy a french moment at the local market buying some rich creamy normandy butter and reserve about 4oz for the tart. (The rest of the butter you can enjoy on a warm crusty baguette whilst you wait for the tart to cook!) and prepare a spoonful of demerara sugar.
Take a sheet of baking-paper or baking parchment. Cut to a size just larger than the size of the apple tart. Evenly brush over the surface of the baking paper some melted butter and sprinkle with some demerara sugar. Roll out the puff pastry to the size of a large dinner plate, and lay onto the buttery baking parchment. Spread over the uncooked puff pastry a generous helping of apple and cinnamon purée, and overlay with very thinly sliced sweet apples (desert).
Glaze with a small amount of melted butter and place in a medium oven, approximately 165-170° and leave to cook for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and sprinkle (optional) with a little more sugar if desired and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes. just enough to melt the sugar.
Enjoy with your friends, family and a dollop of thick farm cream…
or secretly by yourself at midnight in front of the glowing embers of the fire!
Don’t forget a little glass of Pommeau for total apple heaven!