Simply Fabulous Apple Tart

October 10, 2014 | By | More

apple tart

For my 40th birthday (it’s “nunya business” how many years ago it was), Mr. President and I took a trip to northern California. We ended up in Big Sur, the place I’m now convinced I should have been born. This is also where I will be if I ever go missing. But, before that, the day we landed in San Francisco, I insisted that we take a detour for a food pilgrimage to Berkeley, where we had lunch at the iconic Chez Panisse.

 

I walked in hoping to catch a glimpse of the Slow Food movement queen, Alice Waters, herself. But, I soon forgot all about her once I had a menu in my hands. We ordered course after course of inventive but simply prepared local food ending with the most sublime apple galette featuring a pink-fleshed apple variety I’ve never seen where we live.

When we returned home, I searched online for a simple apple tart recipe that would come close to the Chez Panisse version. After a few attempts, I found apple bliss in this recipe I’ve adapted from Smitten Kitchen, but Deb Perelman credits Alice Waters. I figure it’s about as close as you can get to her restaurant version. I like this apple tart because it doesn’t have a gloopy, syrupy-sweet apple filling like a pie. Instead, the season’s best apples are simply sliced, arranged, lightly sugared and glazed. The apples hold their shape and even retain a little crispness after baking.

You can make this into either a galette or a more formal looking tart. Both are rustically beautiful, but a galette may be easier to assemble since there’s no pan involved. I  haven’t told anyone else this, but this apple tart is really good as breakfast with a rich cup of coffee.

For simple recipes like this, the quality of the ingredients is very important. Use the best local apples you can get while they are in season in your area.

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

apple tartDough:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3-4 Tbsp. ice water

Filling: 

Instead of regular cane sugar for sprinkling, I used this fab Piloncillo evaporated cane juice from Rancho Gordo. It’s not necessary, but it imparts a richness in taste and color that you can’t get from white sugar!

2 pounds tart, firm apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (reserve the peels and cores to make the glaze)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

3 Tbsp. sugar

Glaze: 

1/2 cup sugar

Reserved apple peels and cores

1 cinnamon stick

Water

apple tartStep one – Make the dough:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3-4 Tbsp. ice water

apple tartIn a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter pieces and, either using your hands or a pastry blender, mix just until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of peas. Don’t overdo it – visible pieces of butter produce a flaky pastry!

Next, dribble in the ice water, one tablespoon at a time incorporating each before adding more. Toss dough with your fingers and stop adding water as soon as you have a dough that just holds together. Form a ball and flatten it to a small disk. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Step two: 

Preheat oven to 400°.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let it warm just slightly for about 10 minutes so it will be easier to work with. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 14-inch circle. And yes, I measure it – the last thing I want is to transfer the delicate dough to a pan and then discover it’s not large enough.

I always roll this dough out on lightly floured parchment paper. That makes it a lot easier to transfer it to a tart pan without tearing it. Carefully transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan, allowing excess dough to hang over the sides. Gently press the dough into the pan and peel away the parchment paper.

If you are going pan-less and prefer to make a galette, simply transfer your dough circle, parchment and all, to a baking sheet.

Step three:

2 pounds tart, firm apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (reserve the peels and cores to make the glaze)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

3 Tbsp. sugar

Arrange the apple slices standing up in the pan tightly filling in all the spaces. For the galette preparation, just arrange the slices on the dough leaving a two-inch border. You may have apple slices left over for snacking.

apple tartFold the dough edges inward, crimping the dough at 1 1/2-inch intervals. Brush melted butter over dough edge and apples. Sprinkle sugar evenly over top. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until edges are golden brown and apples are soft. Remove and let cool for about 15 minutes before brushing on glaze and serving.

Step four:

1/2 cup sugar

Reserved apple peels and cores

1 cinnamon stick

Water

While tart is baking, prepare the glaze. Combine sugar, reserved apple peels and cores, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Add enough water just to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes until glaze is reduced and a little syrupy. Strain out peels, cores and cinnamon stick.

Brush some glaze over the tart or galette once it’s cooled slightly. Slice and serve with a dollop of softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Category: Desserts, Fall, Food, General, Recipes, Winter

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