Back to Bourgogne… and a tarte aux pommes

tarte aux pommesSunday: Today started off very gray with a light drizzle of rain. It was rather cold, but we still headed to the market in Chalon-sur-Saône after a breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked in our rustic French kitchen. I did the cooking as Hans tended to a fire to get the kitchen nice and toasty and provide a little atmosphere to our first full day back in Bourgogne.
Even though it’s winter, the market at Chalon is phenomenal! What an explosion of color! And what beautiful food presentations! There was pink garlic, freshly-slaughtered, fat Bresse chickens, artisanal cheeses, fragrant pastries and even an oyster stand. I took notice of a beautiful butcher’s truck where tongue and pigs’ feet were on display. Odd to some, normal to the French.
After the market, we drove back to Buxy for lunch, only to find that the only restaurant serving lunch on Sunday was the local bar, Bar Le Bacchus. We decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. We had steak-frites with a bottle of local Givry wine and for dessert the best îles flottantes ever. Not all that bad for ‘bar food’. After a meal like that, there was little choice but to roll back home and spend the rest of the day by the fire”

Ahhh, that was a short excerpt from one of my diary entries. Whenever I go to France, I always start my day with a big bowl of French-pressed coffee and pen and paper. This entry was written a few years ago during a winter break in Bourgogne’s Côte Chalonnaise, an area also known for its great wines. There is more than the Côte-d’Or in this part of France. You can read about that here, if you are interested in wines.
But why all this talk about Bourgogne? Well, last week I was leafing through some books and inside one of them were a few recipe cards I had taken from the wine cave in Buxy during our last trip. My daughter started looking through them and asked: “Mom, when are we going back to Buxy?” I replied that I wasn’t sure. If you read my blog or follow me on social media, you might know that it’s not always easy for me to find time — especially for longer trips. I was very glad to be able to make it back to Duras last summer. For a while, it seemed impossible.
But the thought stuck, and before long I was looking for a way to squeeze in a winter break in that little Burgundian town we fell in love with all those years ago. By Friday evening, it was all said and done. Our trip was settled. I don’t know if it was the few glasses of wine that hubby and I had on the couch, but both of us didn’t take too long to agree we had to go back. I can already tell you that this will be a much needed trip in many ways. Most of all because it will be a celebration of having my daughter back after a week in Italy. How I will get through that week is anyone’s guess. It’s her first time away from home and I’m already slightly stressing!
To celebrate our return (and because supposedly, it’s ‘blue Monday’), I decided to bake a little something for our dessert tonight. We don’t usually have desserts during the week, but I thought this would be the perfect occasion to use up the apples that were sitting on my counter for just a bit too long.
My easy tarte aux pommes was the answer. Thin, flaky pastry topped with a mixture of stewed apple and crème fraîche. On top of that sliced apples brushed with a little melted butter and finished off with a scattering of light brown sugar. I think it would go beautifully with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream or crème fraîche, though it’s perfect all on its own. Enjoy… and stay tuned for my Burgundy adventure at the end of February.

Tarte aux pommes
Serves 6

  • 3 tsps butter
  • 4 small apples, peeled and cored
  • 1/2 tsp French gingerbread spices (pain d’épices spices), or just use cinnamon
  • seeds of 1/2 a vanilla pod
  • 2 tbsps water
  • 1 tbsp crème fraîche
  • ready-made puff pastry (a rectangular sheet of about 28 x 17cm ) NOTE: I used 6 squares of the flaky pastry sheets sold in Holland, three on top, three on the bottom, defrosted and edges stuck together to form one sheet
  • 2 tsps light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the puff pastry on a baking sheet covered with baking paper, and prick its surface with a fork leaving an edge free all around. Chop one of the apples finely and slice the other three thinly. Melt 1 tsp of the butter and gently saute the chopped apple, seasoning it with the spices and vanilla. Add the water and allow to cook for 10 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly and stir in the crème fraîche. Spread this mixture over the surface of the pastry and top with the thinly sliced apples. Fold the edges in a little. Melt the rest of the butter and brush it over the apples and the folded edges. Scatter with the brown sugar. Bake the tarte aux pommes 20-25 minutes until nicely browned. Serve warm.

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