Steve has probably purchased his last batch of local apples for the year, and since he snacks on several per day (there are many, many doctors out there, after all) he’ll soon be buying what he calls “crapples” at the grocery. Michelle, however, has higher standards, and refuses to cook with the flown- and trucked-in Braeburns, Fujis or sappy-sweet HoneyCrisps that Steve brings home. While that means Tarte Tatin and apple clafoutis must wait until next fall, Michelle recently managed to steal some fruit from Steve’s hoard and make an Alsatian apple tart.
Alsace is a land smack between Germany and France, and may be what Europe will look like if their monetary crisis fuses the two nations. We spent a month in Alsace in 2008, jumping back and forth between the former enemy countries.
We toured the militarily tragic sites (lines of old trenches and warnings of live ammo at Verdun, star-shaped forts on the Rhine, battle-scarred memorials in the Colmar Pocket). But mostly we enjoyed the region’s majestically comic aspects (Hansi prints, assorted kitsch, Pfifferdaj in Ribeauvillé).
A land of perpetual Christmas villages, Alsace also has a mind-blowing array of tiny vintners producing delicious white wines. Alsatians seemed to us quite proud of their dishes such as baeckeoffe, fleischnacka, Kugelhopf and flammekueche. (We must admit, though, that we had just about enough choucroute and poulet au riesling in that month to last several lifetimes.)
While we (as usual) enjoyed touring the area markets, we were without an oven in our otherwise charming rental, so we never tested this tart within the (possibly still disputed) boundaries of Alsace-Lorraine. But as we say so long to apple season, we can savor this tart along with our memories of what has to be one of the oddest places we’ve ever visited.
ALSATIAN APPLE TART
(adapted from Susan Herrmann Loomis’ French Farm House Cookbook)Pâte brisée, partially baked in a 10″ tart pan and cooled 2 large eggs 3/4 c. crème fraiche 1/4 c. heavy cream 1/4 c. white sugar 1/4 c. light brown sugar 1 tsp. vanilla 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into very thin slices 1/4 t. ground cinnamon 1/3 c. walnuts, finely chopped
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, creams, sugars and vanilla.
Line the cooled pastry with apples, in a circular pattern. Pour the filling mixture over. Sprinkle with cinnamon, then with nuts.
Place tart on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 400°, until custard is set. Cool on a wire rack.