Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Could a soggy bottom upset the Apple Tarte?

Fanny doesn't like questions, after all she has the knowledge and is simply passing it on, why would you have any queries? "Do as I say and you will have good results". If she were around today I would have a few questions, but only to help me understand her recipes and techniques better. If she was on Twitter I'd be logging on to her live #AskFanny chat and Question 1 would be - why do you sometimes blind bake pastry and sometime bake it 'raw'? This recipe for a Classic French Apple Flan - Tarte aux Pommes - uses 'raw'. Maybe I've been overly influenced by the return of the Great British Bake Off, but I am concerned about a soggy bottom here...

Fanny gives me some instructions on how to slice my apples for this recipe. I should peel them, but not core them. Then, slice in very thin rounds until I hit the core on one side before turning the apple round and repeating on the opposite side. Fanny says I will be left with two very narrow round edges wedges when cut off the core, which I should stand on the base of the cut and slice very thinly too. I am left with either half rounds or rounds, just as Fanny says. Oh and some oblong ones, I went wrong somewhere! My mistake, not Fanny's! 

The recipe itself is fairly simple again - line out my flan case with sweet paste, top with a thick layer of confectioners custard (I had some left over from Madame Fleurette's Flan, which was handy) and top with the sliced apples, copying the pattern in her own picture of course. 

A quick sprinkling of caster sugar and in the oven it goes. Fanny doesn't say how long for, testing me again, but guiding me that it will be ready when the pastry edges are lightly brown and the apples 'strongly' brown. Meanwhile I am to make a redcurrant jelly glaze, with some shop bought jelly and water, simply heated and reduced a little.

Fanny recommends if I am a 'flan addict' (and who wouldn't be with almost every recipe in Part Two devoted to flans) that I invest in a fluted or plain edge flan ring, as these will slide off easily after cooking. I have a loose bottomed one instead, which seems fair enough to me - again I'd #AskFanny though if I should invest in a proper ring?

After half an hour my pastry edges look lightly brown, but the apples are only just starting to turn brown. Oh dear, decisions decisions - do I remove it now? What if the pastry edges were to go 'strongly' brown too? I take the plunge anyway, and take it out. Fanny says I am to immediately brush the entire surface, including my edges, liberally with the redcurrant glaze. Perhaps my glaze isn't reduced enough, but it just seems to run off. If I'm honest the entire flan looks a little 'liquidy' so I am sure that my feared soggy bottom will be there. However I am pleasantly surprised once it is cooled and sliced (transferred as Fanny recommends with two metal slices underneath at right angles), no soggy bottom at all. I can hear Fanny reminding me not to question her, just do as she says... 

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