All-purpose flour, for dusting
1/2 pound puff pastry, rolled into a 6-inch square, 1/2-inch thick, refrigerated until needed
1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tablespoon water
5 Rome or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, split, cored, and sliced into very thin wedges
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, split, inside scraped and scrapings mixed with 5 tablespoons sugar
Sweetened whipped cream, creme fraiche, or vanilla ice cream
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 F. Dust a working surface and rolling pin with flour. Place the cold puffed pastry square in the center and evenly roll out the dough, dusting it with flour as needed. Cut into a 14-inch circle. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, then unroll onto a 13-inch round pizza pan or tart pan. Gently press the dough to line the bottom and sides of the pan, leaving a 1-inch edge overhang. Brush the edge with half of the egg yolk wash, and fold the edge under all around, pinching as you go to make a tightly fluted border. Brush the fluted border with the remaining egg yolk wash.
On top of the dough, make a ring of apple slices around the outer edge of the circle, overlapping the slices every 1/4 inch, forming a rosace (flower shape). Make a second ring of apple slices inside the outer ring. Fill the center of the ring with the remaining apples slices (you may use any broken pieces).
Carefully brush the apples with the butter and evenly sprinkle with the vanilla sugar. Bake the tart for 35 to 40 minutes or until caramelized. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F if necessary to avoid burning. Once the crust is light brown, slide the tart from the pan onto a rack and finish baking on the rack. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Transfer the caramelized apple tart to a platter and cut into wedges. Optional: serve sweetened whipped cream, creme fraiche, or vanilla ice cream on the side.
From Cooking with Daniel Boulud, Daniel Boulud, Random House, 1993. Reprinted with permission.
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