Thursday, July 26, 2012

A is for St Anne and for Apple Tart

France, the 'Eldest Daughter of the Church' has always had a special connection to St Anne, since it's earliest days.  If you have ever watched the 4 part documentary Eldest Daughter of the Church (which I high recommend) you will see it begins with St Anne ~ her venerable body being carefully transported from the persecution in the Holy Land, in a boat with Sts Lazarus, Mary Magdalen, Martha and other notable New Testament people.  They have been cast out by their persecutors into a boat with no oars and by the grace of God, arrival safely to the shores of France.  This country was to be the final resting place for St Anne and devotion has spread out from there to all parts of the world, notably Canada, where her greatest shrine stands, in La Côte-de-Beaupré.

Since St Anne's feast day falls in height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, where fruit is abundant and enjoyed, it comes as no surprise that fruit tarts are a tradition for her feast.  There would be great spiritual symbolism as well, St Anne is the 'fruitful, flowering vine of Jesse' and Mary is the Immaculate  'fruit of her womb'.  Her tomb in Apt, France had been engraved with this symbolism as Frances Parkinson Keyes points out in her book, "St Anne, Grandmother of Our Saviour":

"This design is still visible, in exacly the same form wherein it was graven so many centuries ago. It consists of the flowering branch of a tree, interlaced with a vine bearing both foliage and grapes. To look at it is an experience so moving that, months after gazing at it, this chronicler finds it impossible even to write of it without profound emotion. For it reveals, unmistakably, that when the stone slab was carved, even as now, men and women were reverently reciting the litany which begins:

"St Anne, Grandmother of our Saviour, pray for us." And continues: "St Anne, Root of Jesse, St Anne, Fruitful Vine....pray for us."

St Anne's tomb engraving.

So I have made for my family today a fruit tart ~ an apple tart.  Apple is a very good choice of fruit for St Anne because Eve in the Garden of Eden, corrupted the apple, whereas Mary is the 'new Eve' who restores what is corrupted and Mary is the fruit of St Anne's womb..I think of the typology of the two Eves and think ~ apple.  

I wanted something that was delicious and healthy.   So I found a lovely recipe that is gluten-free with minimal sugar, using hazelnut meal for the crust/base and agave nectar and apple cider with the apple filling.  My husband said, 'well I really enjoyed that', so I think it is a good recipe, just the perfect amount of sweetness and worth trying.  The recipe was adapted by Tamara Duker Freuman at her website here.


Flourless Hazelnut Tart Crust

1.5 cup Hazelnut Meal
6 Tbsp of powdered sugar (I used rapadura)
2 Tbsp of butter at room temp 
1 1/2 Tbsp of cream

I just kneaded the ingredients together, popped the bowl in the fridge for 15mins, then pressed the dough into 9" tart dish.  I pre-baked the pie crust in the oven at 375 degrees (for Australia, that would be 190 degrees), for about 5mins or so and then removed it from the oven, ready to fill with the apple filling

Apple Filling

2 lbs (1 kg) Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced into 1/2" wedges
1/4 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup apple cider

I placed the apple slices into a large frypan, drizzled the agave nectar over the apples and poured in the apple cider.    I popped the lid on the frypan and let the apples cook for about 10-15mins (the time depends on whether you want the shape of the slices kept or you are happy to to let the apple go to mush ~ I did the later).  I then removed the lid and let all the liquid evaporate and then spooned the filling into the tart dish.

I then put the tart into the oven at the same temperature as before and cooked for 25-30mins.  Once out of the oven, I let it cool so that it was mildly warm and served with whipped cream.  I cut the pie to serve 8.

Happy St Anne's Day!

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