I have been so lucky to have done a little travelling around Europe. This came about late in my life and now I have the bug. It is amazing how one random event – a chance meeting – opened my life to the wonders of European food and culture.
While I was in-between jobs after closing my gluten free baking business, I decided to volunteer at a charity kitchen. There are many such organisations around but I particularly wanted to volunteer at this particular charity and with dogged determination and perseverance, my call was finally returned and I started volunteering the following week.
So I get there and sign in and go through the safety measures in place and then apron up. While tying my strings, in walks this very tall dark haired chef. Within about 5 minutes we had found so much mutual ground and things in common that we have become lifelong friends. I bless the powers that made me persist in needing to volunteer there because They knew a friendship had to be formed by two ladies from the other side of town to each other – how else were we supposed to meet?
My dear friend and I have been to Europe twice now, with Paris being the most frequently visited city. Aside from the wind, it is so beautiful and historical and the food is divine. The bistros and cafes are full of great food and the people-watching makes the whole city a stage. Being as both my friend and myself are pastry chefs, the patisseries and boulangeries are where we naturally gravitate and the first visit filled my phone up so much that I needed to get an expandable card, as there were many more photos that needed to be taken.
On the first trip, we went to a restaurant that is wholly and solely gluten free. It is called NOGLU. If you want to find it, Look for the Passage des Panoramas – an adorable arcade.
Once home, I then embarked in earnest to convert as many classic French patisserie recipes as I could to gluten free, with the exception of macarons which are naturally gluten free. Of the many, this blog features La Tarte des Demoiselles Tartin or simply Apple Tarte Tartin.
Many years ago I found this great recipe for a sweet shortcrust pastry from a magazine that is no longer in circulation called Super Food Ideas – Oct 2005. I made some changes to accommodate the rice flour that I use by adding extra butter but essentially the mix of flour is the same.
This pastry uses soy flour. It is not a flour I use a lot but the addition of it in this pastry makes for a lovely shortbread kind of flavour. I change it up also if I want to make a nut-based pastry or a chocolate pastry and it works beautifully every time. Depending on the recipe I will also replace the egg with 60 MLS of chilled water.
The classic recipe for the pastry used by the Tartin sisters is a short and sandy pastry and this is why I have chosen this one as a gluten free substitute. It behaves in the same way and makes a lovely base for the tart. I hope you enjoy this recipe and remember not to skimp on the cream!
Gluten Free Tarte Tartin (La Tarte des Demoiselles Tartin)
Makes 2 tarts
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
160g superfine white rice flour
75g maize (corn) flour
56g soy flour
30g caster sugar
160g cold butter cut into small pieces
1 whole extra large egg (60g)
To make the pastry place butter in a food processor with flours, sugar and egg and process until it comes together in a ball. Turn out onto baking paper and shape into a ball and flatten slightly. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or while the apples are cooking.
For the filling of the two tarts:
10 green apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
400g caster sugar
2 vanilla beans scraped or 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste
Into 2 large pans over medium heat place 70g butter and allow to melt. Once melted add the sugar and stir in well, then add the vanilla. Stir the sugar regularly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until it begins to caramalise and turn a deep honey colour. Now lay the 5 quartered apples into each pan and turn the heat down to low. Cook apples for 20 minutes turning halfway, but shaking the pan throughout the cooking process as some sugar will begin to crystallise around the edges of the pan. Stir this in and give a little shake. Set aside to cool, preheat your oven to 180°C and get ready to roll out your pastry.
Using 2 pie dishes as a guide, roll out each ball of pastry that has been split into 2 equal halves, one at a time between 2 sheets of baking paper. Roll out to a slightly larger circle than the pie dish. Don’t worry about making it a perfect circle as the edges will be tucked in around the apples.
Once the oven is preheated, place each of the apple mixtures into their pie dish, and starting from the outside edge, neaten up forming a circle of tightly packed apples. Repeat into the centre until the base is covered in apples. Lay the pastry over each one, tucking the edges down and around using a regular knife to aid you. Cut a few steam vents into the top of the pastry. The tart will be flipped over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use leftover scraps of pastry to make something creative just for the fun of it. Pop the tarts into the oven for 25 minutes until a deep golden colour.
Once baked, use a knife to gently ease the edges of the pastry from around the dish and very carefully invert the pie dishes onto separate plates large enough to hold the tarts. Do this by holding the plate over the pie dish and with your gloved hand underneath the tart, flip it over. It should come out very easily. This tart is best eaten warm served with cream but you can reheat it if you are making it in advance.
You can make half of this amount of apples(5) to make into 1 tart if you like. The other half of the pastry will freeze well for another tart. While Tarte Tartin is traditionally made using apples, you can substitute pears as well. Either way, you will go back for seconds.