Monday, January 21, 2013

Apple Tart, Pure & Simple

I've started giving cooking & food blogging lessons to a great girl named Molly.  (Check out her blog, After the Bell Cooking).  For our first lesson Molly wanted to make the apple tart recipe in the food memoir My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss.  (Luisa also writes the blog The Wednesday Chef.)  The tart was a great success, and it smelled so delicious when we were baking it that I decided to try it for myself the following week.  

The recipe couldn't be more simple nor the results more delicious.  The dough is a basic pastry crust that comes together in the food processor in minutes.  The filling is simply apples sprinkled with sugar before baking.  While it bakes you cook the apple peels and cores with water and sugar to make an intensely sweet and apple-y glaze that gets brushed over the whole thing out of the oven.  I thought that a homemade salted caramel ice cream would be the perfect accompaniment to this dessert, but alas I didn't think of it in time to make any--next time.  Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would also be great, although we enjoyed this just fine with no frills at all.  

Apple Tart (From My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss)
Serves 6-8

* 1 cup (120 g) All Purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
* 6 Tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
* 3½ - 4 Tablespoons ice water

* 2 pounds of Golden Delicious apples
* 3 - 5 Tablespoons sugar (you decide depending on your sweet tooth)
* 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted

* ½ cup sugar

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the dry ingredients for the crust.  Pulse a few times to mix them.  Add the butter pieces and pulse until the pieces are the size of lima beans.  Sprinkle the water over the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing to combine.  Add just enough water so that the dough holds together when you pinch it.

2. Dump the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface; remove blade.  Gather the dough together and flatten it into a four inch wide disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least thirty minutes and up to three days.

3. Shortly before you're ready to bake, peel, core and slice the apples into eighths; place the peels and cores in a saucepan and set aside.  If you have an apple slicer, it's a great time to use itA helpful tip is to cut the bottom of the apple just a bit so that it sits level when you're slicing it.  Also, be sure to
check to make sure you don't have bits of core on the slices--I usually find that half of the pieces are perfect and the other half have a bit of core on the inside.

4. When you're ready to bake the tart,  heat the oven to 400°F.  Lightly flour your work surface, then remove the dough from the fridge. Unwrap the dough and begin to roll it out with a pin, turning it over and rotating it so that it doesn't stick to the counter as it gets thinner; continue to flour as needed. When the dough is a fourteen inch round and about 1/8 of an inch thick, dust the excess flour from the dough with a pastry brush.

5. Carefully move the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the apple slices in overlapping circles on the dough, leaving a two inch border.  Crowd as many apple slices as you can on to the dough, as they will cook down substantially in the oven. Fold the edges of the dough over the apples to create a rustic crust, leaving the center of the tart uncovered.

6. Brush the melted butter over the apples and on to the crust of the tart. Sprinkle the sugar over the crust and the apples.

 7. Slide the baking sheet on to the center rack of the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, rotating the tray half way through.  It's done when the apples are soft with browned edges and the crust has turned a dark, golden, brown.

 8. While the tart bakes, make the glaze.  Put the reserved peels and cores in a saucepan along with the ½ cup of sugar. Add just enough water so that everything is covered (the apple scraps will float a little, so make sure they'd be covered if you push them down), Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat until it's at the gentlest boil, and cook for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid, discard the apple trimmings, and return the liquid to the pan and bring it back to a low boil. Reduce this liquid until it's thick and syrupy, another 15-20 minutes.  There will be very little liquid left, no more than half a cup.

9. When the tart is fully baked, remove it from the oven.  Pull the parchment paper and the tart on to a cooling rack, and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes.  Brush the apple glaze over the apples.  (You'll probably have a few tablespoons of delicious glaze left.  It's both intensely sweet and apple-y, and tastes good stirred into tea.)  I had trouble removing the tart from the parchment paper, so when the tart was cooler I slid the whole thing onto my serving platter and trimmed the paper around it.  If you're serving it without presenting it, simply cut it on the paper. 
Serve warm or at room temperature


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