Apremont-sur-Allier is one of the official "Most Beautiful Villages" of France~and with a rare otherworldly garden: (HERE).
In late spring, birds sing, flowers bloom, bees buzz and the river cascades with an invitation to spread a picnic blanket and create a memory to last a lifetime.
From Apremont-sur-Allier it's two hours to historic Chenonceau--a fave among the Loire Valley chateaux I've visited, and historically riveting: (HERE).
Night walks are scheduled at Chenonceau from July 1st. Take a moonlit stroll in the footsteps of Chenonceau's unforgettable mistress, Diane d'Poitiers, as she would have experienced the garden's beauty perhaps at midnight amongst fragrant roses with her guests like Voltaire...
The Loire Valley is the “Garden of France" with highest quality apples that base the region's classic Tarte Tatin. Make this recipe to serve 10 to 12 around the firelight--and feel like a queen...
Sour Cream Pastry Ingredients~
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
6 tablespoons chilled sour cream
Apple Filling Ingredients~
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
11 medium-size Pippin apples (about 4 3/4 pounds), peeled, quartered, cored
1 egg, beaten to blend (glaze)
Crème fraîche or sour cream
Blend flour, sugar and salt in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add butter and beat at medium-low speed until butter is size of small lima beans, about 3 minutes. Add sour cream and beat until moist clumps form, about 1 minute. Gather dough into smooth ball; flatten into 6-inch-diameter disk. Wrap dough in plastic; refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
Spread butter over bottom of 12-inch-diameter ovenproof nonstick skillet with sloping sides (skillet should be at least 1 3/4 inches deep). Reserve 2 tablespoons sugar; sprinkle remaining sugar over butter. Place skillet over medium-low heat and cook until butter melts, sugar begins to dissolve and mixture starts to bubble, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat. Arrange apples on their sides around edge of skillet, placing tightly together. Arrange as many of remaining apples as will fit, pointed ends up, in 2 circles in center of skillet. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Set skillet over medium-high heat; boil until thick peanut butter-color syrup forms, repositioning skillet often for even cooking and adding remaining apples as space permits, about 45 minutes (syrup will continue to darken during baking). Remove from heat; wrap handle several times with heavy-duty foil.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425 °F.
Roll out pastry on floured surface to 12-inch round; place over apples. Cut four 2-inch slits in top of pastry. Press pastry down around apples at edge of skillet; brush pastry with some of egg glaze.
Bake tart until pastry is deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to work surface; cool 1 minute. Cut around edge of skillet to loosen pastry. Place large platter over skillet. Using oven mitts as aid, hold skillet and platter together tightly and invert, allowing tart to fall onto platter. Carefully lift off skillet. Rearrange any apples that may have become dislodged. Cool tart 30 minutes.
Cut warm tart into wedges. Serve with crème fraîche.