The Pays de Caux is an area encompassing much of the Seine Maritime in Haute-Normandie in Northern France. It is a part of France that I have not visited but, if this desert is an indication of its beauty then, it must be amazing. The Tarte Cauchoise is one of the traditional tartes of this region, thus its name.
I’ve looked for a good recipe for a long time. Finally I have one courtesy of the family who owns and runs the Saint Honore Boulangerie in Portland. Because I’m a total amateur mine looks nowhere near as gorgeous and the one I was taught to make. Further, since the recipe comes from the family bakery in Normandy and I don’t know if I have permission to share it I won’t give you the exact proportions. But I will tell you the basics and show you the photos of my first, delicious if imperfect, attempt.
Basically, a Tarte Cauchoise is an apple tart that uses a puff pastry shell and an almond meal and creme fraiche based custard. The other ingredients are .eggs, sugar, corn starch, milk, and a bit of Grand Marnier. It’s traditionally made with golden delicious apples but, as you will see from my photos, I used several varieties of apple that I picked at my friends farm in Oregon.
So… here we go!
Start by taking a 10″ tarte pan and lining it with puff pastry dough and then parchment paper. Fill it with pie weights and bake it at 375f for about 15 minutes. If you are an actual competent baker (like my wife) yours will look a hell of a lot better than mine. None the less, here’s what I came out with. (Hey! You come make in for me next time!).
For a single tarte you will need 3 large apples. I selected mine from this wonderful assortment.
Whisk 2 large eggs in a large mixing bowl.
Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar.(I like mine a bit less sweet but that is also less authentic)
Add 1/4 cup of corn starch.
Add about 1 1/2 cups of almond meal.
Mix it all up.
Now add 3/8 cup of creme fraiche. (I make my own from whipping cream, a couple tablespoons of buttermilk, and about 12 hours of sitting out on the kitchen counter)
And 1 1/4 to 1 3/8 cups of whole milk.
Mix it again so that you have a nice almond custard.
Leave the custard alone while you peel and core your apples.
Cut each apple into 8 slices.
Remember the pre-baked tart shell? If the dog has not eaten it by now go grab it and fill it with the apple slices.
Add your custard.
Bake at 330f for 40 minutes and…
VOILA! You have an amazing desert from the glorious culinary history of Normandy!
Perhaps you’ve noticed that I neglected to mention the Grand Marnier. That’s because I did not have any when I was taking my photos. (No the dog didn’t get it). You can add it to taste while adding the milk and that is what makes it authentic. I considered adding some Grappa but feared by oven would explode. 🙂 I considered some Cognac but did not want to start a civil war 🙂 I considered buying some Grand Marnier but I don’t think it comes in 1/8 cup bottles 🙂 I decided to just leave that up to you!