bits and pieces

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rustic Apple Tart for Laura

rustic apple tart!
Now only a few of you may know this but I have had my issues with apple pie. Earlier this winter I made apple pie for a family dinner (Ribmaggedon I think?). I had only made pie once before. I'm not sure if I screwed up the recipe by not trusting it and adding nonsense to it, or if it was simply served way too soon after coming out of the oven (pretty much immediately). Either way the filling did not stay and oozed everywhere in a decidedly messy but delicious apple soup. Somehow this came to be referred to as Croatian Sweet Soup. Thanks pals.

So it was with trepidation that I approached apple pie a third time a few weeks ago. But Taylor had bought a whole whack of apples that were just sitting in our fruit basket looking sad. I have this Bonnie Stern cookbook (Friday Night Dinners) that I have a love hate relationship with. I feel bad about the hate part. Bonnie Stern lives in my Dad's building and seems like a very nice lady, but ehhhh. Just something about the cookbook seems very boring. Which is kind of ludicrous as there are 25 different dinner menus in it with a variety of themes and cuisines. It just doesn't spark with me. But for the LOVE part of the love-hate - everything I have attempted from this cookbook has worked and worked REALLY well. Even when I've fiddled with it and added things that I probably shouldn't have added. So my sweet Bonnie lass has a recipe for Rustic Apple Tart. I tried it. I messed with it (the first time.. I am brave). And it worked.

me and laura at a much more dignified stage of life
My darling lady Laura Wallace wanted dessert suggestions for Easter dinner SO I decided to make it again for this Easter weekend. So I will have tart-pie and perhaps SHE will have tart pie. Wallace - if pie doesn't tickle your fancy do the panna cotta! I hope you all have a friend like LWall. I hadn't seen her for probably two years (?sad...) and then we hung in Toronto a few weeks ago and it was like noooothing had changed or happened in the intermittent two years. It's so wonderful knowing good people are good people are good people. Everyone should have such great pals.

That said this tart-pie is really good. I think the only thing that makes it rustic is the informality of the shape. It's almost like an upside-down apple cobbler. You don't even have to make it PIE shaped. You can kind of roll out the dough, put your apples in the middle and fold the excess pie over the top and just bake it like some strange tart oddity. Also - MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE. It is the one part of the recipe that I left untouched. It is MAGNIFICENT. I ate way too much with a spoon. Especially considering making caramel you are aware that it is pure sugar. So yup. I stood there eating sugar on a spoon.

So onto the tart-pie - as I said, adapted recipe from Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinners (which is actually a good pick up for the tentative chef). It seems a bit more complicated than it is because you have to make the crust first, but pffff. You're smart! You can make one more step! The ingredients are all pretty basic - the only things you might have to go out and grab are apples + whipping cream.

Note: When I asked my roofer-boy if he wanted pie this weekend he responded "I want Croatian Sweet Soup". True love.

ingredients for the crust:
 2 cups of flour (I used a little more)
a pinch of kosher salt
pinch of sugar + pinch of brown sugar
1 cup of COLD butter chopped/cut into little bits
1/3 cup of ice water

other things you will need:
a large bowl
some saran wrap

note: you can also just use store bought pie crust if you're pressed for time. It wont be quite as 'rustic' but I'm sure it will still be delicious!
  1. to make your dough: in your bowl mix your flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter while rubbing into the flour. You want to essentially rub the butter and flour mixture together. The butter isn't supposed to be TOTALLY blended. You want little pieces still visible. These little butter pieces are what end up making your pie crust/tart crust flaky. The butter will melt and form tiny little air pockets which make it flaky. IT'S SCIENCE!
  2. Once you've blended in your butter, sprinkle it with ice water and gather it all into a ball. Add more water if you think it's necessary - your dough should seem like pie dough. I wasn't sure about mine the first time round and it worked out FINE. Form your ball of dough into a flat disk, wrap it in saran and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
ingredients for pieeeee filling:
 6 apples - peeled, cored, and haphazardly thickly sliced and chopped. I've always been told that apple pies are the BEST when you use a variety of apples. Golden Delicious, Spy, Granny Smith - whatever! I'm using all the same apples however. Stay tuned. 
1/2 a cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour (add 1 tsp more if you add whisky and vanilla)
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
a dash or two of nutmeg (my mom also claims putting a bit of allspice in pies but I haven't done that yet. maybe this time!)
I added a splash of whisky (yeehaw! but this is optional. but nice)
1 splash of vanilla
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp sugar

other things you will need:
 a bowl for making your filling in
a baking sheet or pie pan or something to make your pie in. I used a springform
something to roll your dough with. I lack a rolling pin since moving so I used a floured wine bottle because I am a class act. 
a pastry brush if you have one (not the end of the world if you don't)
tart filling! ooh rustic!
  1. Preheat your oven to 425. 
  2. Prepare your tart-pie filling! Peel + core + chop your apples, combine them with the brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, nutmeg, vanilla, whisky. Mix it all together real niiice like. It should be a relatively dry mixture - the apples will cook and release apple-y goodness so don't freak out like I always do and add more whisky/melted butter/nonsense which will turn your pie into Croatian sweet soup.
  3. Flour a 'work surface' or cutting board or something. Take your dough out of the fridge and roll it into a relatively circular shape. Perfection is unnecessary but a general circle is good as you are going to put your filling in the middle and cover with the edges of the circle shape soon. 
  4. Grease your baking tray-pan-whatever. Sprinkle the bottom with a tiny bit of flour (very tiny bit). 
  5. Transfer the pastry to your baking-tray-pan-whatever. Pat into place if you're using a pie dish or anything like that. Spread your apples in a circle in the middle of the pastry. Fold the outside pastry in towards the apples bringing it up and over them, leaving (hopefully) a small-medium sized hole in the centre.
  6. Brush your pastry with that beaten egg and sprinkle with your 2 tbsp sugar. Bake it for 20 minutes at 425 and then reduce heat to 375 and bake for 40-50 minutes (I know - so looong). Your tart is done when the crust is goldeny and the apples look tender and wonderful. 
Caramel soup. I mean sauce. SO GOOD.
Whileeee your tart-pie is baking you will want to make your caramel sauce. Don't worry if you're making the pie-tart/tart-pie earlier in the day/the night before. You can make the sauce beforehand and just keep it in a little dish somewhere ready to get spooned over your incredible pie-tart. Honestly this sauce MAKES the pie so do not NOT make it.  Just don't burn your mouth by eating molten sugar like some of us.
1 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of whipping cream 

other things you will need:
wooden spoon
sauce pan
goldeny caramel!
  1.  In your sauce pan stir your cup of sugar with your water over medium high heat until the sugar comes to a boil (you're making candy! exciting!). Cook without stirring (it's hard) for 6-8 minutes until your caramel turns a deeeep golden colour (but don't burn it). Remember your caramel will cook for a good few seconds once you remove it from the heat so once it's a nice light brown caramel - remove it from that heat!
  2. Slowly and carefully add your whipping cream. Stir it all in. Heat gently until your caramel is smooth once more. It will bubble and get weird and clumpy and just generally kind of sick looking. Keep stirring over low heat and it will slooooowly melt back into a delicious caramel-y looking sauce, I promise.
  3. Pour into a heat-safe dish and cool.
  4.  pure sugar + cream = caramel
I'm off to remake this pie. I will post a photo once it's done!

update: photo up! see the top if you somehow missed it. 

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