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Apple, Almond and Cardamom Puff Pastry Tart

apple puff pastry tart

This is a puff pastry tart. It’s also very rustic and very seasonal. I think the splash of Calvados makes it a wee bit sophisticated too. But you needn’t feel intimidated by this or any other puff pastry tart. They can be quite simple to prepare.

Of course a puff pastry tart requires puff pastry. I’ve made my own puff pastry before, it’s a bit tedious. Frankly I’d never put a recipe on this blog that required you to make your own puff pastry. Not that you can’t or shouldn’t make your own puff pastry. There are probably quite a few folks out there who make wonderful puff pastry. I’m just not one of them, so I can’t expect you to be either.

So when I make a puff pastry tart I use store-bought puff pastry. All-butter store-bought puff pastry is better than what I can make myself. Especially the French brands like Dufour. I depend on these when making anything that calls for puff pastry. The package can be kept in the freezer until ready to thaw. Please thaw the frozen crust slowly in the refrigerator. It’s one of the rules about puff pastry. If you tried to thaw puff pastry on the counter it’s very likely you’d get condensation– making for sticky dough that’s hard to work with.

Making a Puff Pastry Tart

Getting good results from a puff pastry tart requires that you understand how puff pastry works. Something magical happens as the butter melts in well-prepared puff pastry dough. The water trapped within becomes steam as it heats. The steam rises, forcing each layer upward. This makes for a final product with a million flaky layers that you never would have guessed were there when you rolled that dough out. Once you know this, the tricks to working with puff pastry become a breeze.

Starting with the scraps. You’ll often see recipes that tell you to save the scraps “for another use”. That’s because the scraps save well– provided you handle them well. Don’t wad them in a ball. Take the time to stack the shards and roll them out into a flat piece about 1/4‑inch thick. Then fold it  into a convenient size for storage. This is the best way to assure that those million flaky layers will puff up to golden perfection, even with leftovers.

Another trick that I rarely see specified comes in handy when cutting puff pastry into workable pieces. Don’t slice the dough by sliding the knife through it. Instead use a downward chop or rolling motion, picking up and moving the knife as you work. A pizza a wheel is ideal. This technique will help the pastry puff.

Lastly. I mentioned steam was the magic needed to make the shell of a puff pastry tart rise high. So a light spritzing of water is a good idea. Don’t spritz the dough however, spritz the surface it sits on. You want the steam to rise through the puff pastry tart, not somewhere else nearby. GREG

making an apple puff pastry tartc

Apple Almond Cardamom Tart

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Apple, Almond and Cardamom Tart

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon Calvados (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • prepared puff pastry (thawed and chilled)
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water (as egg wash)
  • 1 large baking apple (such as Braeburn or Rome)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Directions

Combine almonds, ½ cup sugar, 1 whole egg, Calvados (if using), cardamom and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse multiple times until a soft paste forms. Add butter; blend until well combined, about 10 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

If you are using a single large sheet of 14-ounce commercial style puff pastry, trim it to a 12-inch-by-9-inch rectangle then transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet that has been lightly spritzed with water. There will be extra puff pastry, save it (stacked and folded, not wadded into a ball) for another use.

If you are using the grocery store style of puff pastry (the kind that comes in a 17½-ounce two-pack with each sheet folded in thirds) you’ll need to roll out the dough. In that case leave them folded in thirds, but stack them on top of each other, oriented in the same direction. Then, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to form a rectangle about a scant ¼‑inch thick. Then trim the pastry into a 12-inch-by-9-inch rectangle; transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet that has been spritzed with water. There will be extra puff pastry, save it (stacked and folded, not wadded into a ball) for another use.

Once the rectangle is sitting on the baking sheet, cut eight ½‑inch strips from the long side of the puff pastry, move the strips to the counter and recenter the remaining 8‑inch-by-9-inch rectangle if necessary. Neatly brush a ½‑inch wide border of egg wash along each edge of the puff pastry rectangle; save the remaining egg wash for brushing the assembled tart. Use four of the remaining strips of puff pastry to create a raised border; trimming the pieces to fit cleanly at each corner. Press gently with your fingers to adhere. Set the last 4 strips of puff pastry aside as a decorative top for the tart (optional). Using a fork or a docker, poke holes in the bottom of the tart shell (not the raised border). Transfer the tart shell to the refrigerator to chill uncovered, for about 1 hour. This will help the pastry keep its shape and rise well.

Set the oven rack to the center position, then preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Core and slice the apple into at least 36 thin slices. Toss them with lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until well coated. Set aside.

Remove the tart shell and the almond filling from the refrigerator. Using a spoon dollop the almond filling evenly across the bottom of the tart shell. Then smooth the filling with the back of the spoon evenly across the interior of the tart shell. Take care to keep it within the border. Line the apple slices up in three rows of 12 overlapping apple slices (or more to taste). Brush the exposed puff pastry border (tops and sides) with more egg wash. Lay the remaining strips of puff pastry decoratively across the apples. Press gently with your fingers to adhere (optional). Brush the entire surface of the tart (puff pastry and apples) with egg wash. Sprinkle with Turbinado sugar, then transfer to the heated oven. Bake until puffed and well browned; 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.