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I have never been much of a pastry chef. I suppose there are reasons for this including not having enough practice, always seeming to have a ready local source of good desserts, and a belief (right or wrong) that having a lot of yummy sugar laden treats around the kitchen was not in my best interest or that of my family. But I think that my real avoidance of baking comes from the fact that I like to prepare dishes that are more “forgiving” than those requiring delicate balances of flour, sugar, butter or eggs- items like an Opera Cake, croissant, or a mille-feuille. The result is that I usually try simple desserts that employ only a few steps and leave a wide margin of error. Some that fit the bill in past postings include Cloufoutis and seasonal fruit crumbles. They are simple, homey and satisfying.
But I do love pies and tarts so when I came across a recipe for a “Rustic Apple Tart” and the weather had turned as crisp as a Granny Smith, I decided to give it a try. I was also curious about how a mix of gluten free flour, called Cup 4 Cup that Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Einkorn flour would work in the recipe. Einkorn is an ancient wheat variety that has never been hybridized. A friend told me about it and always curious, I ordered some. It has a slightly yellower tone, a richer flavor and while it contains gluten, there is less of it and it is chemically different from the one found in modern wheat.
The key word that attracted me to the recipe was “rustic.” It conjured up in my imagination a less precise looking and heartier crust to hold the fruit. This tart doesn’t even need a pie pan. No fancy decorations or basket weave pastry tops. I certainly wasn’t disappointed and feel that anyone can play with this recipe using regular all-purpose flour or some other variation of my mix and there is a good chance for the crust to work beautifully. Actually having very low expectations (not to be confused with being hopeful) for this recipe, I was really thrilled with the results: a very crisp and rich crust, even on the bottom under the fruit, and a warm golden appearance which, along with the scent of apples and allspice, made a sweet ending to an autumn meal.
Rustic Apple Tart
This recipe is adapted from recipes by Martha Stewart and Michelle Wong. Photo by Laurel Durst
1 1/4 cups flour (all purpose, or a combination of 1 cup Einkorn all purpose flour and 1/4 cup "Cup 4 Cup" gluten free flour or similar mixture) plus more for rolling surface
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until mixture just begins to hold together.
Shape dough into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 1 month; thaw in refrigerator before using).
4 -6 small apples (Gala or Granny Smith's seeded and sliced thinly slices, skin left on)
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. lemon
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 tbsp of milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Over a sheet of baking parchment, roll out the chilled dough into a round 1/4-inch thick. Use extra flour as needed to keep from sticking.Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes or cover tightly and refrigerate for at least an 30 minutes. Combine cornstarch, salt, sugar, lemon, cinnamon, allspice, ginger in a bowl and and mix in thinly sliced apples.
Transfer the apple mixture onto the dough, fanning the apples out slightly, but letting them overlap. Leave a 1.5 inch border of dough, then fold edge of dough over fruit.
Brush crust with egg and milk mixture; finally, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons sugar over the crust. Bake until crust is golden and the underside is cooked through, about 55 minutes. You may top with vanilla or caramel ice cream or whipped cream.
6- 8 servings.