Tarte boulangère, or baker’s tart; so called because for centuries it has been prepared by nimble, floury fingers in every bakery in France. A pillar of French tradition, this dessert is also very simple, unrefined and rustic – bakers did not aspire to be the finest pâtissiers – and with the availability of good-quality puff pastry, it is even easier to make these days.
It is delicious and a joy to cook at home, especially when using British-grown apples, but apricots, plums, figs and in fact most fruits make a delicious substitute for apples. The lid-less tart can be prepared in advance and served at room temperature, or gently reheated in the oven and served warm for a delicious dessert on any day of the week.
Prep 15 minutes / Cook 50 mins
Serves 4 to 6
Plain flour, for dusting
300g all-butter puff pastry (block or ready-rolled)
5-6 Royal Gala, Cox or Braeburn apples (total weight 700–800g)
50g unsalted butter
5 dessertspoons (about 85g) Demerara sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon Calvados (or water, if you must)
To finish a handful of flaked almonds (optional) icing sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
2. Pastry first. On a floured board, roll out a disc of pastry that’s about 4mm thick. If using ready-rolled, simply unroll your pastry. Place a cake tin of about 18cm diameter on the pastry and cut around it, to create a disc of puff pastry. Run a sharp knife around the pastry, about 1cm from the edge, and about 1mm deep. This concentric circle will enable the pastry to rise perfectly around the apples. Line a baking tray, and place the disc onto it. Reserve in the fridge.
3. Peel and core the apples. Halve each apple lengthways, and cut each half into three equal-sized segments lengthways.
4. Melt the butter and mix it on a separate baking tray with the Demerara sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and the Calvados (or water). Roll the apple segments in the sugary mixture, so that they are well coated.
5. Roast for 10 minutes. Turn over the apple pieces, baste them, and return them to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Baste the apples once more, and leave them to cool.
6. Arrange the apple segments on top of the pastry in a circle – leaving the space of about 1cm from the edge of the disc – to form a dome of apple pieces. Brush them with the remaining syrup from the baking tray.
7. Bake in the oven (at the reduced temperature of 190°C) for 25–30 minutes.
8. Enjoy tarte boulangère warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with flaked almonds, if using, dust with a little icing sugar and serve with a jug of cream, a bowl of whipped cream or with ice cream or crème fraîche.
The British apple and pear season starts on Monday 4 October 2021 and Raymond Blanc will be partnering with British Apples and Pears (BAPL) for the second year running to promote these delicious fruits to a wider audience.
Simply Raymond: Recipes from Home by Raymond Blanc is out now in hardback, priced £25.00 (Headline Home). Photography copyright Chris Terry 2021