October 1, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Tart

Last week I had every intention of posting this salted caramel apple tart. I got up early, and started prepping ingredients. It was a soggy gray afternoon, the sun nowhere to be found. A perfect day to pull out my shiny new lighting equipment. While I balanced tart making and light learning, at the end of the day, I was left with a gigantic mess. A pretty tart, a room full of lights, and not a picture to share. Transitioning from daylight to artificial has its challenges, but to be honest, I really can't be bothered chasing the sunlight in the winter. Waiting for the perfect time to shoot, preferably before noon, which means getting up before 8am, which my body will not do. When the sun is out, and peaking through the window from the right angle, the stars align and magic is made, but on those days where I stand in my living room cursing the lack of brightness, those days I could do without. 

Yesterday, I put on my apron and took another stab at using my lights (for those of you curious, I have two Einstein lights, two reflectors, a medium soft box, an umbrella, a cyber commander, and two cybersync transceivers). I now have (2) tarts in the kitchen, and a few photos to share. I'm still getting the hang of things around here. After spending many years using various techniques to manipulate and get the best results out of natural light, I now have so much control, right at my fingers tips, that I just don't know what to do. As you can probably tell, I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but bare with me, and things should start to run more smoothly in the next few weeks. I really am looking forward to seeing how my photography progresses, and pretty pumped to be able to share it with you. 

My body has been craving something apple-y and fall-ish for weeks. Brent isn't a big fan of pie, so if I want things to get eaten around here, 2 tarts to be exact, it better be something that he loves. Tarts he can handle, and this French tart dough recipe from Paule Caillat via David Lebovitz is pretty extraordinary. It is soft and delicate, easy to handle, rich and buttery. Once I found this recipe, I haven't used another. A while back I added some Parmesan cheese for a savory tart, and it was crazy good. This time, I left it as is, perfect. 

Despite the fact that this recipe has three steps, caramel sauce, tart crust, and frying apples in butter, it is quite a bit easier than it sounds. The caramel is a mixture of brown sugar, butter, cream and salt, with a touch of vanilla in the end. A quick boil on the stove until it thickens, and then you can let it cool on the counter and then in the fridge for a few hours. The crust is an interesting recipe that involves placing butter, oil, water, salt and sugar in a bowl, and then in the oven for 15 minutes. Then you complete it by stirring in the flour and waiting for it to cool to press it into a tart pan. The crust is baked for 15 minutes, and then left to cool before filling. The apples, fried in some butter with brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and salt, fill the air with that yummy fall-baking smell. Layer the caramel and the apples in the tart shell and then top with salt flakes, and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with a generous serving of vanilla ice cream, and this dessert is basically the most amazingly intense combination of flavors. 

makes 1 rectangular tart (13.75 x 4.5")
caramel sauce adapted slightly from Ree Drummond
tart crust from Paule Caillat via David Lebovitz

Caramel Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half cream
4 tbsp unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Tart Crust Ingredients:
3 ounces unsalted butter
1 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp white sugar
1/8 tsp salt
190g all purpose flour

Filling Ingredients:
1 lb Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
sea salt for sprinkling

To make the caramel sauce, place the brown sugar, cream, butter, and salt into a medium saucepan on medium-low heat and bring to a low boil. Once boiling, continue to boil for 5 - 7 minutes, continuously whisking until the sauce has thickened slightly to the consistency of maple syrup. Add the vanilla extract and continue to boil for one minute. Remove from the heat to let cool. Pour into a container and place in the fridge to further cool. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 2 weeks sealed.

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 410ºF. Place the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt into an oven proof bowl and stir. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes. When you are ready to remove the bowl, the butter and water will pop and splatter. Be careful, and remember to wear mitts when dealing with, it is quite easy to forget that the bowl is hot. 

Stir the flour into the hot butter mixture until it forms a ball. Let sit until it is cool enough to handle. Place the dough into the tart pan. Smooth it flat with a spatula and then press it up the sides of the pan with your fingers. Poke tiny holes with a fork into the bottom of the crust to let the air escape while baking. Place the tart into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. If you see the base of the tart starting to puff up while baking, poke a few more holes. Remove the tart from the oven to let cool. Reduce the oven to 375ºF.

While the tart crust is cooling, place the apples and butter into a frying pan on medium heat. Cook until soft. In a small bowl, add the sugar, corn starch, and cinnamon. Sprinkle onto the apples and continue cooking for a minute or two.

Place a layer of caramel sauce into the tart shell. Layer the apples on top, and then drizzle with more caramel sauce on top (there will most likely be leftovers when you are finished). Sprinkle with sea salt and place into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Can be stored the the fridge for a week. Reheat before eating.


  1. This is a gorgeous tart! I'm craving cozy autumnal treats myself, and this one may have to make an appearance in my kitchen. Good luck with the new lights!

  2. Beautiful photos, as always! I keep threatening to buy a dang tart pan already and I think, FINALLY, the thought of this tart in my life has convinced me to do it. It looks and sounds too good to pass up.

  3. You always have the most gorgeous photos!! Apples are caramel are totally magical together! I have about 20 pounds of apples in the kitchen....can't wait to make this tart.

  4. Oh man... I keep trying with the lights. But it's just so damn hard to like it. Even when I take an OK photo, I feel like it's chance and not intent. :/

    Tart looks yum.

  5. Looks like you've definitely got the hang of things!! The tart looks delicious.

  6. stop it. so pretty! i want to eat this right now, send it over please :)


  8. Gorgeous photographs! I love salted caramel ... with anything! :)

  9. This looks stunning! I love love love that tin. Want one now :-)

  10. Beautiful tart! Pinning immediately!
    The only thing I am not looking forward during the cold months, is the lack of light... I will have to look into the equipment you mentioned.

  11. I for one am so intimidated by setting up artificial lights that I'd rather chase the sunlight :/

  12. LOVE the look of this! A long tart tin is always so dramatic!

  13. Eating it right now. Delightful !

  14. Hi. My friend just told me about your blog and also "Cooking With Mr.C." on Facebook, also a blog. I just "Liked" his Facebook page and came to your site. Very nice ! I love when people share blogs with each other. Denise