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Recipes and Stories

30 October 2012: Autumn Apple Tart

A Simple Apple Tart

Now that we’re finally getting a little bit of a nip in the air, here’s another simple apple tart that is just the thing to warm and soothe.

The most important part of a good pie or tart is good pastry, which is fortunately a snap to make, especially if you own a food processor.

Pâté Brisée
This is essentially Julia Child’s recipe, from her book From Julia Child’s Kitchen. Once you’ve made this classic pastry in the food processor, you’ll never look back.
Makes enough for 2 9-inch pie shells

8 ounces (about 1¾ cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 ounces (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small bits
2 tablespoons chilled lard or vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
About ½ cup ice water

1. Chill the steel chopping blade of the food processor in the freezer for at least 5 minutes. Insert it into the machine, add the flour, sugar, and salt, and pulse to sift. Add the butter and lard and process until the whole mass resembles coarse meal. Pulse in the water a little at a time, starting with ¼ cup, and then adding more by spoonfuls until it is just holding together. You may not need all of it.

2. Turn the dough out onto floured work surface and finish blending by hand, pressing and pushing the dough away from you with the heal of your hand, sprinkling on more water if needed (keeping in mind that it should be malleable but not sticky). Gather the pastry into a ball, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and chill it for at least 20 minutes before rolling it out.

Once the pastry is ready, the tart goes together in just minutes. The classic preserve for the glaze is either apricot jam or currant jelly, but I happened to have a jar of local Mayhaw jelly on hand, and it worked handsomely.

A Simple Apple Tart
Serves 6

1 recipe Pâté Brisée (recipe follows)
About ½ cup cinnamon sugar (recipe follows)
3 large, firm crisp apples such as Gala, Honeycrisp, Arkansas Blacks, or Granny Smiths
1 cup apricot jam, or currant or Mayhaw jelly
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Roll out the pastry into a round about 1/8-inch thick. Fold it into quarter and lay the resulting point in the center of a 10-inch removable bottom tart pan. Gently unfold the pastry and let it fall into the edges of the pan, gently pressing it into the flutes. Roll a rolling pin over it. The sharp edges of the pan will cut the pastry without stretching it. Prick the bottom well and refrigerate while preparing apples, at least 20 minutes.

2. Position a rack in center of the oven and preheat to 450º F. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/8-inch slices. Sprinkle pastry thickly with cinnamon sugar. Arrange apples in overlapping, circles on the pastry. They’ll almost be standing to make them all fit. Sprinkle them generously with cinnamon sugar.

3. Bake 20 minutes, until the edges of the pastry have begun to brown and the apples are beginning to soften. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake 20 minutes more, or until apples are tender and crust is golden and crisp. Remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly.

While the tart bakes, rub the jam through a sieve, if using. Put the jam or jelly in a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons sugar, stir well, and melt it over medium-low heat. Simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved and the glaze is thick, about 2-3 minutes. Gently paint the apples and edges of the tart with the glaze. Let it cool enough to handle and set the pan on a large can. Carefully lower the rim and then slide the tart onto a serving platter. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

Cinnamon Sugar

Put a cup of sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon in a large shaker with medium holes that has a tight-fitting storage lid. Put on the storage lid and shake vigorously until the cinnamon is evenly distributed. If you don’t have a shaker like that, go get one: they’re not expensive. Meanwhile, you can blend the sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Combine them in the bowl and whisk until the sugar is an even color.

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