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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Home Cookin': Apple Tart

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 10:56 AM

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A fall trip to the orchard is a tradition in our house. We fill at least two giant tote bags every time we pick apples. We love them straight off the tree, as well as sliced, dusted with cinnamon and simmered into applesauce with whipped cream on top. Our neighborhood hosts cider-making parties and canning get-togethers. And, of course, there’s pie.

When those first cool, breezy fall days come around, nothing is more important than filling the house with the soothing aroma of something sweet in the oven. But let’s face it: while anytime is a good time to eat pie, there often isn’t time to actually make one. Especially during a busy work week.

After our latest trip to the orchard, I needed a recipe that would satisfy my urge to bake something impressive and delicious with my beloved apples and get me out of the kitchen in half an hour.

I found the answer on food52.com. I remembered a peach tart I’d seen there while browsing dessert recipes and thought I’d try it out with apples instead. The super simple crust is made with flour, oil and milk, then pressed right into the tart pan. The whole thing can be made with two bowls, a fork and a sharp knife for peeling and slicing.

I upped the amount of fruit, swapped coconut oil for canola and added a little almond paste to the crust mixture and crumble topping. It fun to make, and in just 20 minutes, it was in the oven, the scent of cinnamon and apples wafting through the house.

The result was delicious — and beautiful. I can’t wait to bring one to the neighborhood cider party.

Apple Tart
(adapted from food52.com) 

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1/2
 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, separated
1 teaspoon white sugar
2/3 
cup light brown sugar
1/4
 cup coconut oil
1/4 
cup mild olive oil
2 
tablespoons whole milk
3
 teaspoons almond paste, separated
2 
tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
4 to 5
 medium apples (I like Macs) peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon maple syrup (the real stuff, of course!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon white sugar.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the almond paste. Pour this into the flour mixture and stir it with a fork just until it comes together — you don’t want it to be too smooth.

Tip the dough into a tart pan — any size from 9 to 11 inches will work  — and pat it out by hand until it covers the bottom of the pan. Make sure you push the dough all the way into the creases and up the sides of the pan until it meets the edge. Use your palm and the heel of your hand; don’t be afraid to press hard! The crust should be about 1/ 8-inch thick all around. If you’re using a 9-inch pan, your dough may be a bit thicker.

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Next, put 2/3 cup light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the butter and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond paste into another bowl. This is my favorite part: Use your fingers to pinch the butter and paste into the dry ingredients until it turns into a crumbly mixture, like small pebbles.

Toss the apple slices in a bowl with the maple syrup and cinnamon.

Starting on the outside edge of the pan, arrange your apple slices in an overlapping circle over the dough. Keep going until you reach the center, then do another layer on top of the first. Make sure you really pack them in; no dough should be visible on the bottom of the pan. 

Sprinkle your crumb mixture on top of the apples. This will seem like a lot of crumble, but you should use it all anyway.

Pop the tart into the preheated oven. Check it after 35 minutes. It’s ready when bubbles appear along the edges, the crust is golden and the crumble is brown and crispy. If necessary, give it a few more minutes until it looks right.

Cool just a bit (on a rack, if you have one) and serve warm, preferably with vanilla ice cream.

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