Somehow—even though it feels like just minutes ago I was lying on a blanket in my backyard reading in the shade of towering sunflowers—it’s already November. A week ago I woke up to snow. I watched it with a cup of tea between my hands as visions of coziness danced in my head.
On my drives back and forth between New Haven and the Berkshires, the road winds through rolling hills and little Star’s Hollow towns nestled in outrageously bright foliage. It’s hard not to drive off the road from the sheer audaciousness of all that color. The trees remind me of Scarlett O’Hara’s gowns; rich yellow satin sewed delicately to the purple-gray lace of the trees, beneath a blue velvet sash of afternoon sky.
Even in the underbrush, the colors range from brazen bronze and tarnished orange to shades of shocking pink and red. The sumacs are ablaze in rays of afternoon sun. Yellow maples brushed with splashes of red look as if they were painted by some joyous child. Leaves the hue of onion skin are translucent in the evening sky
Naturally, I’ve been thinking about pie. Thanksgiving, a day when it’s perfectly acceptable to bake from dawn ‘til dusk, is a matter of weeks away. If you’re dreading baking pies this holiday season, I recommend the endlessly forgiving rustic tart. Simply roll out the crust on a parchment-lined baking sheet, pile the fruit in the middle, and fold the sides around the fruit.
Once you have the technique down, you can adapt this tart for any season. It’s perfect for apples, their sweet tart skin flush with the colors of the surrounding autumn trees.
This recipe is from Joanne Chang in Fine Cooking Magazine. My simplified and slightly modified version is below.
Ingredients for the crust:
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 11 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- Demerara sugar (optional)
Ingredients for the filling:
- 4 cups worth (2-3 large) apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
Make the tart dough
- Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the cubed butter and toss with a fork until butter is coated with flour mixture. Turn out the entire contents of the bowl onto a clean countertop or large cutting board. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter until it resembles slightly smaller than pea-sized crumbs.
- Put butter and flour back into medium-sized bowl.
- Next, in a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork until the liquid is evenly distributed. The dough will still look crumbly and dry. Dump it onto a clean counter and knead it with the heel of your hand until the dough comes together and is pliable.
- Gather the dough into a flat disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper. Chill dough in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Prepare the fruit
- Toss 4 cups of peeled, cored, and sliced apples with ¼ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, and a pinch of salt. You can also add a squeeze of lemon, a dash of vanilla, or a shake of cinnamon if you like!
Roll out the dough
- Preheat oven to 350° and position rack in the center of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from freezer and let sit for a few minutes. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. For a slightly less rustic look, trim the edges into a smooth circle.
- Transfer dough to the baking sheet and chill for 2-3 minutes in the fridge.
Assemble the tart
- Remove dough from the fridge. Heap apples in the center of the dough. Using your fingers, fold the edges of the dough over some of the fruit to create a rim about 2 inches wide.
- Mix one egg with a few drops of water to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers, in a pinch), brush egg wash evenly over the pleated dough. Sprinkle pleated dough with about two tablespoons of Demerara sugar.
- Bake your tart until pleats of dough are golden brown, usually about 55 minutes. Don’t worry if some juices seep out onto the pan! It’s all part of the rustic charm.
- Transfer to a rack and let cool
- Eat with a few scoops of your favorite vanilla ice cream
Little Sister Links:
From now on, each blog post will include links to my top 5 favorite finds from around the ‘net!
1. Thinking about breaking away from tradition this Thanksgiving? Look no further than this miso sweet potato pie with chocolate sesame crust. Very bold.
2. I am SO excited about this fall’s cookbook lineup. Here’s a list of everything hitting the shelves—just in time to Christmas shop for all your foodie friends.
3. This wifi-controlled cookie oven may just be modern technology’s most terrifying invention to date.
4. I spend a lot of my time fantasizing about my dream kitchen. After all, a kitchen tells you more about someone’s personality than a closet ever could. How lovely and cozy is food blogger Yossy Arefi’s kitchen?! A girl can dream…
5. …Except in some cases, when dreams are too painfully unrealistic. Like this kitchen, in which even the faucet is a work of art. And would you LOOK at that oven?!!