The landscapes of Southern Normandy, about halfway between Paris and the seaside, never fail to please with lushly greens and small ancient villages, occasional châteaux and friendly horses grazing peacefully under the early summer sun. When we go there, and lately we do that quite often on a Sunday afternoon, we usually stop here and there to make pictures and take a look around, whiling away our time with no clock ticking, just until we´ve sniffed enough country air and decide to head back.
While one desire is satisfied, other cravings are raised, and in Normandy, thoughts inevitably revolve around salted caramel, good butter, – and apples. The fruit may not be perfectly ripe yet, but if there´s one cake that fits any day, any time, then it´s probably la tarte aux pommes. Of so many apple pies I love, this one, with a hint of Calvados, a marzipan topping, and a fromage blanc /Quark pastry, is of my favorites. I used to buy a similar one in a small bakery around the corner of our house in Bavaria, and this is a little Frenchy adaption.
Apple marzipan tart (for 1 24 cm/9 inch tart):
125 g low fat quark/fromage blanc, well drained
approx. 150-175 g flour
120 g cold, cubed butter
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
1 pinch salt
apple filling and marzipan topping:
5 apples, peeped, diced
50 ml calvados
175 g marzipan
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75 g confectioner´s sugar
2 egg whites
2-3 tbsp flaked almonds
baking: 180 °C/350 °F 50 min approx.
For the crust, mix all ingredients in a kitchen machine fitted with the paddle attachment, until a sticky, elastic dough has formed. Start with 125 g flour and 2 tbsp brown sugar and see how it comes together. If it looks very sticky after 3-4 minutes, add 25-50 g more flour and 1 tbsp more sugar – depending on kind of dairy used. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.
Soak cubed, diced apples with calvados and set aside for 1 hour.
Line a buttered tart pan with the tart dough. Prick all over with a fork. Cover with a sheet of parchment, and place a second, slightlty smaller baking dish (or other oven proof weights) on the parchment to prevent the dough from puffing up. Blind bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes approx..
Remove the smaller tart pan/the heat proof weights and the sheet of parchment. Dispose apples on the prebaked tart shell, reserve the calvados. Continue to cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together egg whites, marzipan (grated or finely diced), confectioner´s sugar, and leftover calvados. You want a paste-like consistency. After 15 minutes, take tart out of the oven and dust with ground cinnamon. Spread marzipan topping onto the apples with a spatula. Sprinkle flaked almonds. Continue to cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden.
Serve luke warm or cooled, with a dollop of crème fraîche on top.