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Apple Caramel Tart Infused with Fennel

Emma Duckworth
A reinvented take on the French Classic. This Apple Fennel Caramel Tart combines flay pastry with thinly sliced apples nestled in a fennel infused caramel and baked to perfection. Delightfully elegant, this tart is perfect for your family dessert or as an entertaining show-stopper.
Recipe from my cookbook 'Simply Sweet Nostalgic Bakes' - 55 Elegant Takes on Comfort Classics.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Method Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 10 slices
Calories 392 kcal

Ingredients
 

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

  • 220 g plain flour (all-purpose)
  • 40 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • 115 g unsalted butter - cold, cubed
  • 1 large egg - cold and beaten
  • 15-30 mli ice-cold water

Fennel Caramel Sauce

  • 12 g fennel seeds
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 115 g unsalted butter - room temperature and chopped
  • 160 ml double (heavy) cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt

Apple Filling

  • 1 lemon - juice
  • 570 g apples (about 5)
  • 8 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)

Instructions
 

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

  • Rub the butter into the flour. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Add the butter and toss until the cubes are coated. Rub the mixture together between your fingers until it reaches a breadcrumb consistency with a few hazelnut-sized pieces of butter still visible. 
  • Add egg and water. Make a well in the centre and add the egg. Using a fork, mix the egg into the flour. Add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the ice-cold water, and use your fingertips to bring the dough together. If the dough isn’t clumping together, add more water sparingly.
    Tip the dough onto a lightly floured countertop, and use floured hands to shape the dough into a ball, taking care not to overwork it. Flatten slightly into a disc, and wrap well in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to let the dough rest.
  • Bring the dough together and refrigerate. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured countertop, and use floured hands to shape the dough into a ball, taking care not to overwork it. Flatten slightly into a disc, and wrap well in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to let the dough rest.
  • Roll out dough. Remove the chilled dough disc from the fridge and set it aside on your countertop for 15 minutes or so to allow the dough to warm up slightly so it’s easier to roll out. Trying to roll dough that is too cold will cause the edges to crack. To roll out, lightly flour your countertop and rolling pin, and using firm, even strokes, roll from the centre outward, turning the dough a quarter turn every few strokes. Roll the dough out to the thickness of a coin (⅛-inch (3-mm) thick) and into a 12-inch (30-cm) circle.
  • Prepare dough in the tart tin. Flour the base of a 9-inch (23-cm) shallow fluted tart pan with a removable base, and gently lift the dough and place it into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to push the dough up the sides of the pan and into the grooves. Using a sharp knife, trim off the excess dough from the rim. Refrigerate the prepared tart shell for at least 1 hour to allow the dough to relax further. (My preference is to leave the shell overnight in the fridge and continue with the recipe the next day. If you do this, cover it well in plastic wrap to ensure that the dough doesn’t dry out.) 
  • Blind bake. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Once the dough is chilled, prick the tart base all over with a fork, and then line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights all the way up the sides. Blind bake for 15 minutes, and then remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Return the tart back to the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the base is dry and a light golden colour. Remove from the oven, and leave the tart shell to cool whilst you make the caramel and prepare the filling.

Fennel Caramel Sauce

  • Toast the grind fennel seeds. In a small skillet over low heat, lightly toast the fennel seeds. Once fragrant and lightly browned, add to a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder. Set aside.
  • Heat the sugar until it melts. In a high-sided nonstick saucepan, heat the sugar over medium heat, stirring often. Once the sugar is in liquid form, stop stirring and just swirl the liquid sugar whilst the colour changes to a lovely amber colour. Keep an eagle eye on it at this stage as it can turn to burnt sugar very quickly.
  • Add the butter. Carefully add the butter in one go. It will bubble up but whisk continuously until it has thoroughly melted. Then remove from the heat. 
  • Add the cream. Pour in the cream, but be careful as it will bubble up again, but keep whisking and the bubbling will die down. Return it to medium heat, stirring occasionally, so that the caramel can thicken. This takes around 5 minutes.
  • Add the flavourings. Remove from the heat, stir in the ground fennel seeds (add half if you want a more subtle flavour), vanilla extract and salt, and stir thoroughly to combine. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Add to the tart shell. Pour 1 cup (240 ml) into the bottom of the tart shell and smooth out flat. Pour any remaining caramel into a small serving dish and serve alongside the tart.

Apple filling and assembly

  • Slice apples. To make the apple filling and assemble the tart, add the lemon juice to a large bowl. Cut the apples in half through the core. Remove the core with a sharp knife or melon baller. Slice the apple crossways as thinly as you can. An option is to use a mandoline for this part. Discard (or eat!) the top and bottom of the apple cheeks. Add the apple slices to the bowl and gently toss to prevent them from browning.
  • Arrange apple slices. Arrange the apple slices into the tart shell in any pattern you desire. I started on the outside of the tart shell and laid them overlapping, continuing in a spiral until the centre of the tart. Use your fingers to reposition any if necessary. The thinner the slices, the easier it will be to spiral in the centre. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. 
  • Bake. Place the tart onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the caramel is bubbling, the apples have softened and the apple edges have caramelized. Cover the edges with foil if the tart shell is browning too quickly and continue to bake. Be careful when removing the tart from the oven as the caramel will be molten hot and melted to a liquid and the apple slices can slide around.
    Allow the tart to cool in the tart pan for 15 minutes, repositioning any slices that may have moved when taking the tart out of the oven. After 15 minutes, carefully remove the tart from the pan and slide it onto a serving plate.
    Serve warm with any remaining caramel sauce drizzled on top and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Notes

Step-by-Step Photos: My blog post includes helpful step-by-step photos to help guide you through making this recipe.
Total Time: Time in the recipe card does not include refrigeration time.
To store: This tart can be stored at room temperature. Wrap well in plastic wrap for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To freeze: You can freeze your baked apple caramel tart by firstly allowing it to cool completely. Once cool, set it into the freezer until it's solid, then wrapping it in plastic wrap tightly, and then aluminium foil and freezing for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
TIP 1: For the shortcrust pastry. Use cold ingredients, don't overwork the dough and refrigerate as recommended
TIP 2: For the caramel. Mise en place before starting, keep an eye on the sugar to preventing it from burning and be careful when the butter and cream are added.
TIP 3: Thinly sliced apples. The thinner you slice the apples, the easier they are to swirl but will also bake right through and soften.

Nutrition

Calories: 392kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 4gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 312mgPotassium: 83mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 838IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Caramel Apple Tart
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