Fall wouldn’t be complete without a post from my dear friend Amy and her best kitchen helper, Mr. B! I can’t go through a season without them. I love them so. 🙂 Amy’s recipes are always amazing and this tart is SUPER YUMMY! I had a slice after I finished the photo shoot. Delicious! Take it away, Amy!
By Amy Oelkers
Friends, can I share a secret with you? It’s important to be honest with the people you care about, and hey, if you care about baked goods and beautiful blogs then I care about you. So here goes: I just don’t like pumpkin. I don’t like pumpkin pie, I don’t like pumpkin flavored baked things, and ohhhh gosh that pumpkin spice scent: please don’t.
I know. And it’s not that I actively dislike pumpkin foods (though pumpkin spice candles, I’m looking at you); I’ve been known to happily eat a pumpkin bar at any given potluck, but really, isn’t a pumpkin bar about the cream cheese frosting? Really I just don’t *LIKE* like pumpkin. I don’t really see the point. As Garrison Keillor said, “the best pumpkin pie you ever ate wasn’t that much different than the worst one. It’s just an excuse to eat nutmeg.”
Ultimately, my seasonal food fondness is firmly grounded in apples. Of course it’s part of our Northern heritage up here in Minnesota; did you know that scientists at the University of Minnesota have developed 27 new apple varieties since 1908? It’s especially remarkable when you consider that the Honeycrisp, probably the U of M’s most famous apple, took 31 years from creation to commercial release. With apples on my mind this month, I have a recipe for a little rustic tart (also known as a galette) that looks just as good as it tastes. And the best part, since it’s free-form, you don’t need to stress about it looking perfect. It won’t! No worries! It will be delicious and no one will notice it doesn’t have pumpkin OR cream cheese frosting!
Rustic Apple Tart, adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters
1 disk, rolled-out tart dough (recipe and directions following)
1 T. cornstarch
4-5 large apples, quartered, peeled and cored (peels and cores reserved)
2 T. butter, melted
½ c. plus 4 T. sugar, divided
Preheat oven to 400°. Place a pizza stone, if you have one, on the center rack.
2 c. flour
12 T. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 t. sugar
¼ t. salt
7 T. ice water
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor (if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour, it will just take some elbow grease).
Put 4 tablespoons of the butter in the bowl and pulse several times, until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and pulse just until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of large peas. Dribble ice water into flour mixture in several stages as you pulse the food processor, just until the dough starts to hold together and forms a big clump or ball. If it looks like there are still some dry patches, add another tablespoon of water and pulse until it comes together.
Divide the dough in half, firmly press each half into a ball, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, pressing down to flatten each ball into a 4-inch disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. (Dough will keep in the freezer for a few weeks.)
When you’re ready to roll out the dough, take one disk out of the fridge to soften slightly so it’s malleable but still cold. Place disk of dough between two pieces of parchment and roll out to a circle between 10-14 inches across and about 1/8th inch thick. Return to the refrigerator for ½ hour before using. Repeat with second disk of dough to make a second tart, or freeze for later use.
Sift cornstarch over tart dough, to within two inches of the edge.
Peel apples. Slice the apples ¼ inch thick.
Starting 1 ½ inches from the edge, arrange apple slices in a slightly overlapping ring. Working inward, arrange the remaining apples in tightly overlapping concentric circles, until you reach the center.
Rotate the tart while folding the excess dough over the apples and slightly crimping to make a border.
Gently brush the melted butter over the apple slices and the dough border.
Evenly sprinkle up to 2 tablespoons sugar over the apples and another 2 tablespoons over the buttered pastry edge.
Slide tart (with parchment paper) on to a cookie sheet that’s upside-down. Transfer to pizza stone or keep it on the cookie sheet.
Bake in the center of the oven (preferably on a pizza stone). Rotate the tart once or twice while baking to make sure the crust browns evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes in all, until the apples are soft, their edges have browned a bit, and the crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown.
Make the glaze while the tart is baking: put the reserved apple peels and cores and the remaining ½ cup sugar in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or so. Strain the syrup and brush it gently over the finished tart before serving.
Remove from oven and carefully slide it off the parchment directly onto a cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes before glazing and slicing.
If you forget the cornstarch it’s not the end of the world, but it can definitely contribute to a soggy crust. The same goes for the pizza stone – having that radiant heat from the bottom helps prevent a crust that can become limp from the cooked apple juices. If you don’t have a pizza stone, leave your baking sheet in the oven while it’s preheating, and slide the tart onto it when the oven is hot. It won’t hold heat as well as a pizza stone but it will help.
Apple choice is a personal preference of course, but I happen to believe pretty strongly in apples that don’t hold a slice when baked. Usually the texture of a great baking apple will be a little grainier when raw than those that are ideal for eating out of hand; like the difference between a Zestar or Macintosh apple (my two favorites) versus a Honeycrisp or Pink Lady, for example.
Do as I say, not as I do here: more apples and more concentric circles is better than the opposite. For the tart I made for this post, I could have added quite a few more apple slices since they shrink as they cook and can reveal more tart dough than you might want. Don’t get me wrong, this one tasted great, but I think it would have tasted better if it had been even more apple-y.