Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pie + Tart = The Simplest Apple Part

Mollie, when we come, will you make us a pie? Asked Sister2 last week.

My initial response: Ugh. NOOOOOO. Uh-uh. No way. Not happening. I don’t do crust.

I trace the source of my crust–aversion to my mama. Most of the time, her pie crusts came out flaky and beautiful. But on some cursed days, the crust just wouldn’t work. I can picture my mama in the kitchen, trying to coax her crust into behaving. Come on! Please! Don’t crack! Don’t crack! Oh no! No no no no!!!


The ball of dough made a trajectory to the trash, and mama started all over again.

So you can see why in my mind crust = ugh.

But Sister2’s boyfriend, like so many boys, doesn’t like cake. (I know, what is that about? Right???) But it’s true. In my experience men prefer pie. And after my initial no way reaction, I reconsidered.

A whole pie was just too daunting. But a tart? For some reason that seemed easier. Just one crust, and it’s meant to look rustic. So I got my Google on, and found Smitten Kitchen’s Simplest Apple Tart. I don’t have a tart pan, so this is a tart in pie form…a “part,” if you will.

I psyched myself up, and dove in. Bring on the crust!

(My changes are in blue)

Alice Waters’s Apple Tart


1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces

3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water


2 pounds apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

5 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon


1/2 cup sugar

MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas. (I don’t have a food processor. But mixing it up with your fingers works just as well!)

DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.

PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400* F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)

OVERLAP apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals. I sprinkled the apples with cinnamon.

BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples. (Deb note: I found it nearly impossible to coat it with this much sugar, so I used a little less–more like 3 tablespoons. It made a lightly sweet tart, which we found perfect.)

BAKE in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.

MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.

BRUSH glaze over tart, slice, and serve.

(AMAZING pictures thanks to PhotoMan – rocking the food photography world per usual!)