From September – December 2015, I studied at the University of Nottingham in the UK. I was there studying organic chemistry through an exchange program at my college, and as part of the curriculum, we took many day trips to various “scientific sites” in England.
One of our trips was out to Woolsthorpe Manor, AKA Newton’s house, in Lincolnshire, England. This trip had honestly very little scientific relevance, but the people that tended the grounds were cool and let us all take an apple so no complaints there. For those of you who don’t know the story about Newton’s apple tree, here is the general consensus on it’s relevance: While Isaac Newton was studying at Cambridge, England was experiencing the Great Plague, so the University sent all of it’s students home to save their brilliant minds from the plague. While Newton was home, presumably very bored by the nothingness around Lincolnshire, he spent a lot of time thinking. Through a window in his bedroom, he discovered the composition of white light, and while sitting under/looking at/tending to his apple tree, he began theorizing the Universal Law of Gravitation. Ultimately, all of Newton’s discoveries spiraled into the modern calculus, physics, and.. well everything we know today.
Visiting Newton’s manor was a treat and somewhat of a necessary pilgrimage for the scientist in me, but the real exciting takeaway here was the apple. Flashback to three weeks before this trip, my friends and I were in Paris for the weekend. Before going to Paris, I had scoured trip advisor for an affordable cooking class. I eventually settled on a not-so-affordable (but 200% worth it) cooking class in the art of vegetarian French cooking. Coming from a family of mostly vegetarians, I would never see myself making some meat-centered French classic like, say a duck confit, ever in my life, so this seemed much more practical. The recipe used for the tarte tatin comes directly from La Cucina de Terresa, the wonderful woman who brought us into her home and showed us the art of cooking vegetarian, sustainable food, all while conserving the French ‘je ne sais quoi’. She gave me recipes and a way of life that I admire and will keep with me forever.
I had been looking for an opportunity to make the tarte tatin we made with Terresa since our trip to Paris, and once I saw the apple I immediately thought “this is it.. NEWTON’S APPLE TART” .
This recipe is wonderfully simple. I’ve made it three time in the last two months and have passed it along to almost everyone that tries it. Hand making the short crust is simple if you have a kitchen scale — 1 part fat to 2 parts flour, a pinch of salt, and however much water it takes to combine. I use this as a guideline for almost all crusts I make, and it works beautifully every time. The recipe also calls for fresh bay leaves. However, if you only have dried, wait for the caramel to cool, then add the tried bay leaves, apples on top, crust, and then you’re good to go. The flavor still infuses into the apples and adds a wonderful spice to the otherwise sweet tart.
Go make this tarte tatin, it’s fantastic.
Tarte Tatin Recipe: Courtesy of La Cucina di Terresa