Norman apple tart is a shortcrust pastry-based (pâte brisée) variant of the apple tart made in Normandy filled with apples, sliced almonds and sugar topped with creamy egg custard tart and baked until the topping is slightly caramelized. It is also known in French as the Tarte Normande.
You can make just in one of two sizes, one of which is just under one third of a metre in diameter, and a smaller variety, between a half and one third the diameter of the larger type.
The key difference from other similar cakes are that other egg-custard tarts -for instance popular in the UK-, do not have the apple and almond topping.
Other apple tarts that probably originate in Normandy include a variety which, instead of egg-custard, has a layer of almond paste, or almond and apple paste, or frangipane almond pastry all topped with a pattern of semi-circular apple slices (some are decorated with a pastry lattice and most are made with short crust pastry).
In Belgium the French bakers chain Paul sells Flan Normand under this product name (see pics) and with apparently close adherence to the traditional 19th century recipe, where the topping and overall appearance is ‘rustic’ but I wanted to make an artisanal ‘French Apple Tart’ without any egg-custard just with semi-caramelized apple slices and without any almonds or nuts.
Ingredients for the pastry:
200 grs flour
100 grs butter
1 pinch of salt
3 teaspoons of powder sugar
3-4 spoons of cold water
For the top: 1000 grs of apples, peeled, sliced, 50 gr of sugar, 100 ml Calvados liqueur, 100 ml milk or cream,
you can use: cinnamon and sugar mixture, or almond and sugar mixture
1. For the crust: place dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse, until the butter is in small crumbly bits. While the motor is running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. (You may not need all of the water. You don’t want your dough to be too soft and sticky). Place on a floured surface and knead quickly into a ball. Roll the dough out to fit the pan you are using.Trim the edges. Place in the refrigerator to chill while you are preparing your apples.
2. Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife. Slice apples crosswise in 1/4 inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices around the perimeter of your tart pan and continue until you can not bend the apples enough to place them without gaps (about half way). Microwave the remaining sliced apples for 1 minute in the microwave or until they are more pliable and soft. This will enable you to bend the apples and finish overlapping them and to curl the middle slice resemble a flower in bloom. Sprinkle the entire sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over apples. Pour over cream and Calvados mixture or butter all around evenly.
Bake for 30 minutes to 40, until the crust is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the dough puffs up in one area, simply poke it with a fork or knife and it will go down. Keep an eye on your tart periodically during baking in case this happens. Let it cool to room temperature but in Normandy the custom is to eat until it is still warm.