Simple Apple Tart
I realize this simple, beautiful tart is a little démodé at the moment, seeing as Thanksgiving has now passed and humble tarts made from fruit (or vegetables for that matter) are easily given up for the charms and glitter of Christmas treats.
–Before I move on, I have to say a note about my use of the word “démodé”–it’s french for out-of-date, or out-of-style. Could I have just written that instead of using some pretentious-sounding french word, and thereby avoid this whole messy business? Why yes, I could have, but I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but my francophile tendencies have taken on a new level and I’ve been enrolled in a French 101 course at my university since September. It’s lovely. And I just learned the word démodé today, and I am pleased that I found a way to put it into a post here. So no bringing me down, you (probably nonexistent) critics!–
Where was I? Oh, yeah, the transition from idyllic tarts and pies made from the fruits of the Earth to Christmas-craze candies and treats. Now, I understand the only currency accepted at the moment comes in the form of chocolate, butter cookies, and royal icing, but this tart is something so very classic and simple that I feel like it’s important to share even if it’s a little out of place. I first found it on the Smitten Kitchen website (please head over there if you want to see some beautiful photos of a beautiful tart), and then was reminded of it in Luisa’s My Berlin Kitchen. I loved it for the same reason they did, and you don’t have to look beyond the ingredient list to see just what that reason is: this tart is made simple of a pastry, apples, some butter, and sugar. It tastes of apples–made more appely-tasting by the glaze made from the apple peels and cores that are reduced down with a simple syrup–wrapped up in some flaky, buttery pastry. It’s wonderful and I don’t know if there’s any part about it that I would want to change.
I absolutely do not judge you one bit if you see this tart, accept it for its simplicity and charm, and move on to get to more important things, like what type of roast you’re going to plan for Christmas, or what homemade treats you’re going to hand out in the next couple weeks. (Speaking of homemade treats, I recently made these snickerdoodles, which were awesome, as well as these chocolate crinkle cookies. Both are very fitting if cookies are what you’re in the mood for.) But once the buzz of the Christmas season passes (whine), please don’t shrug this recipe away, mostly because it’s hardly a recipe at all. This is a straightforward and intuitive dessert that is both elegant and humble, which is honestly sometimes hard to come by. So when you are lucky enough to come by it, keep it and remember it for the future.
One Year Ago: Dorie Greenspan’s Rustic French Apple Custard Cake
1 single-crust pie dough round, chilled
2 pounds Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar, divided
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with butter; set aside. Peel, halve, and core the apples, then slice them into about 1/8-inch slices. It helps to keep the slices all together, in order (as in don’t just slice them and throw them in a bowl). While you do this, make sure to reserve the peels, cores, and any excess apple parts. They will be reduced with a syrup to glaze the tart later.
Roll out the chilled disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully place and fit dough in the greased tart pan, letting the excess dough hang off the sides. Overlap the sliced apples in the pan, starting at the edges of the pan. Keep fanning out the slices and continue inward until all areas are filled. It’s important to note that the apples will soften and shrink a bit while baking, so don’t hesitate to pack them in pretty tightly. Fold any overhanging excess dough over the pan back on to itself and the apples. Brush the melted butter over the apples and the edges of the pastry. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the edges of the dough and 2 tablespoons over the apples.
Bake in the preheated oven until the apples are soft, browning at the edges, and the crust is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.
While the tart is baking, put the reserved peels and cores in a saucepan, along with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Pour in enough water to just cover the apple parts, about 1/2 cup. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and continue simmer for about 25 minutes until it’s a smooth glaze. Strain syrup to remove the apple parts.
Once the tart is removed from the oven, slide onto a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the apples. Serve warm or at room temperature.