30 October 2011

Apple and Camembert tart or "Pass the butter, please!"

I know, the combination sounds quite weird but this is an a-ma-zing dish. Really. Very. Incredibly. Good. 

When I stumbled across it on Tastespotting, it was a Brie and Pear tart. My mum went into fits of laughter when I told her the story of me making this recipe (hello, mummy!) as I started with "I found this brilliant recipe for a Pear and Brie tart!" and then started listing all the things I changed about it which was basically everything (I kept the sugar, the oven temperature and the baking time, though): I couldn't find any organic brie so I bought camembert (experts, please don't hit me, but is there any difference between brie and camembert besides the region of origin and the size? They're both the same to me...), I didn't have any pears left so I substituted apples (holstein cox, to be precise. I didn't know that variety before but now that I know them, I've decided that they are the best apples in the entire universe. They taste like sherbet. Fabulous.) and I was too lazy and too stingy to buy pear schnapps so I ended up using cherry brandy (there was some left over from the gingerbread project a few weeks ago). And I didn't really like the sweet almond pie crust, so I made a different, more neutral one.

Sorry for the picture. There's no natural light in our kitchen, so almost all the pictures I take in there turn out absolutely awful. (And the tart just smelt so good, I didn't have the patience to bustle around for minutes, trying to get a remotely good shot.)

The whole thing tastes very french. The apples, the camembert, the crust. Oh my, the crust! It's very buttery, but in the best of ways. Come to think of it: Is there even a bad way of being buttery? Or to put it this way: "Is there anything better than butter? Think it over. Every time you taste something that's delicious beyond imagining, and you say, What is in this?, the answer is always going to be butter. The day there's a meteorite heading toward the earth and we have 30 days to live, I am going to spend it eating butter. Here's my final word on the subject: You can never have too much butter." Absolutely never. I have to agree with Julie Powell here. (The quote's from the Julie & Julia film. You don't know it? Go watch it! Chop chop!)

Where was I? Oh yes, butter! And where do we find the most buttery, tasty, delicious, wonderful dishes? In France, of course. Buttery pastry always tastes like France. Always. I'm not a francophile. I would like to be but I'm not. I love the music, the food (the menus, the pastry!), the wine, and the landscapes and towns, but I don't get along with the people. Shame. Well, at least I can have the music, the wine and the food without going to France. I'm babbling, sorry. Back to the tart.

It looks amazing, it smells amazing, it tastes amazing. The only thing I couldn't decide on is what kind of dish this tart actually is, or rather when to eat it. Is it something you can have for supper? Is it a pudding? Or a kind of cake you can have for tea? If you ask me, it's neither. But it is absolutely delicious, so just make it and eat a slice (or two or three, if you're a glutton like me) whenever the whim takes you.

Apple and Camembert tart
(inspired by A spicy perspective, recipe for crust adapted from Simply recipes)
Makes for 1 tart

For the crust: 
150 g/1.25 cups all-purpose flour
115 g/0.5 cup unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1 cm/1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:
200 g camembert
3-4 apples
50 g/0.25 cup sugar
1.5 Tbsp calvados (is certainly better than my cherry brandy)

Preheat the oven to 200 °C/400° F.

Combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and mix until you've got a crumbly substance resembling oatmeal. Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, checking after each addition if the dough holds together. If it doesn't, add a little more water. Put in the fridge for at least an hour (recipe says. I didn't do it).

Grease a tart form. Now you have two options: You can roll out the dough into a disk and then line the tart form with it, or you can just put the lump of dough in the form and press and squish and push it around until the form is lined. I always go for the latter option because it's less work and I'm lazy.

Put it in the oven to prebake the crust.

In the meantime, core the apples and cut them and the camembert into very, very thin slices.

In a small bowl, combine the calvados and the sugar.

Remove the tart form from the oven. Cover the bottom of the tart with camembert (it doesn't matter if it starts to melt). Cover the camembert with a layer of overlapping apple slices, then spread the calvados sugar mixture on top and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 30-40 minutes (the cheese should bubble up and the crust should be a brownish gold), then let it cool for 10 or so minutes. 

Eat with a cup of strong black coffee or a glass of wine while listening to George Brassens.

I have no idea how long it keeps since I ate it within two days (almost on my own).

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