Today was a “bake with a buddy” day, and my buddy brought over a big stash of Honeycrisp apples. The first thought was to make an apple pie, but I tend to be intimidated by making homemade pie crust. So, this Rustic Apple-Cinnamon Tart seemed more manageable because even though it involves making a pie crust from scratch, there’s lots of room for error due to it’s “rustic” nature. And boy, did it look rustic as we put it in the oven to bake. Prior to baking, the apple pile in the center of the tart looked messy, and the crust looked clumsily formed. But somehow when it came out of the oven, the tart transformed into a fabulously delicious dessert. The crust is light, flaky, and crunchy (due to the sprinkling of the turbinado sugar prior to baking), and the tender apples really shine through with their flavor. This tart is especially perfect for those who want a lighter (and less goopy) version of apple pie.
Rustic Apple-Cinnamon Tart
(from Fine Cooking – http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/rustic-apple-cinnamon-tart.aspx; My notes are in italics between [ ].)
Makes 8 servings
For the Dough
6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
5-1/2 oz. (11 Tbs.) cold, unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
3 Tbs. whole milk [I didn’t have any milk so I used heavy cream.]
For the Filling
4 cups peeled, thinly sliced apples [thinly sliced apples will bake better]
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Big pinch table salt
1 large egg, beaten well
2 Tbs. turbinado sugar
Make and Roll the Dough
- Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or if mixing by hand, in a medium bowl).
- Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add them to the flour.
- On low speed, mix the butter and flour until the flour is no longer white and holds together when you clump it with your fingers, 1 to 2 minutes. If there are still lumps of butter larger than the size of peas, break them up with your fingers. Run a spatula along the bottom of the bowl to loosen anything stuck to the bowl. (If mixing by hand, mix with a pastry cutter or two forks until the butter is mixed into the flour as above).
- In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and milk and add them to the flour mixture. On low speed, mix until the dough just comes together, about 15 seconds; the dough will be somewhat soft. (If mixing by hand, add the yolk mixture to the flour and mix gently with a fork until the liquid is well distributed.) The dough will still look crumbly and dry.
- Dump the dough onto a clean counter [Make sure to flour your counter so the dough doesn’t stick], and work it with the heel of your hand, pushing and smearing it away from you and gathering it up with a bench scraper and repeating until the dough comes together and is pliable).
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, press it into a flat disk, wrap it in the plastic, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes (or up to four days) before rolling it out.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator; if the dough is very firm, let it sit at room temperature until it’s pliable enough to roll, 10 to 15 minutes.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough into a round that’s about 13 to 14 inches in diameter [Make sure you don’t roll it dough out too thin, or else it will be difficult to transfer to the parchment lined baking sheet]. It’s all right if the edges are a little ragged. If you can’t get a roughly round shape, trim the dough so that it’s a rough circle and roll the trimmed scraps back into the dough.
- Transfer the dough round to the baking sheet, and put it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. [I had a bit of difficulty transferring the rolled out dough to the baking sheet because the dough was thin and pretty soft. Luckily I had rolled out my dough on a Silpat mat, so I inverted the Silpat onto the parchment lined baking sheet and then peeled the Silpat from the top of the dough. In the future, I’ll make sure the dough is not too soft/warm before I start rolling it out.]
Assemble and Bake the Tart
- Put the apples in a large bowl. Toss the fruit with the 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Taste the fruit; if it’s more tart than you like, add up to 2 Tbs. more sugar.
- Add the flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt and toss until everything is evenly mixed.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to keep it from cracking when you assemble the tart.
- Pile the apple mixture in the center of the dough round [It will look a bit like a small apple mountain, but don’t worry because it will deflate a little during baking].
- Using your fingertips, fold the edges of the dough over some of the apples to create a rim about 2 inches wide [Be careful that the apples don’t poke through the dough. Otherwise your tart may leak too much]. Work your way all around, pleating the dough as you go [Don’t worry too much about making it look too pretty. It may look a bit dumpy (“rustic”) before baking, but once baked, it gets better looking].
- Using a pastry brush, brush the pleated dough evenly with the beaten egg.
- Sprinkle the turbinado sugar directly on the dough and fruit.
- Bake the tart until the pleats of dough are completely golden brown without a trace of pale, unbaked dough, about 55 minutes. (It’s all right if some of the juices escape from the tart and seep onto the pan.) [Quite a bit of my juices escaped onto the parchment, but it transformed into a very thin layer of caramel hard candy that I later scraped off the parchment, slightly crumbled, and sprinkled over the top of the tart.]
- Transfer to a rack and let cool. The tart may be baked up to six hours ahead of serving.
- When cool enough to handle, use a spatula to transfer the tart to a serving plate or cutting board. Slice it, and serve it warm or at room temperature. [This tart doesn’t slice very neatly because the crust is somewhat delicate. But the fantastic flavors make up for any cosmetic shortfalls it has.]