It's Spring - not really apple season. The trees have not even blossomed, but local apple growers now have fancy winter warehouses that keep supplying us with fruit that seems as fresh as the day it was picked. Usually I cannot resist buying that little basket of apples and even if I do "an apple a day" there may be some left over, calling out to me - to make this recipe! [Or... my other favourite apple recipe - Rustic Apple Cake - also easy-peasy!]
I call this a "legacy" recipe because it seems to have already been passed down / along several times. I have adapted it from Smitten Kitchen, and Deb Perelman says that it's from Alice Waters - and then adds that Alice Waters says it's from Jacques Pépin. I have no idea if the following are the original recipes, but no surprise that, as the recipe passed from one kitchen to the next, it kept changing. Pépin describes his mother's tart - with a press-in pastry, apple wedges, and an apricot glaze as the final touch. Food 52 shares what is supposedly Waters' recipe - slightly different ingredients - and note in the photo that the apples are more loosely, sparsely overlapped.
Why do I like this recipe?
- I have success making the pastry in the food processor - fast!
- while the pastry is chilling, I prep the apples - not complicated - fast!
- it's one layer of pastry - fast and easy - and fewer calories
- the pastry is not overly sweet
- the apples are not mixed with other ingredients - less fuss
- works with a pie plate, tart pan, springform or go free-form / galette
- and of course, it looks and tastes fab!
- check that you have all the ingredients
- remove the butter from the fridge just a bit before starting; measure the butter for the pastry and for the filling
- measure dry ingredients
- chill the water
- note that the pastry needs to chill for 30 minutes; it's a 45 minute bake, and a 15 minute wait to enjoy!
- lightly grease the pan you are planning to use, or prep parchment on a sturdy bake sheet if doing a free-form galette
- Preheat the oven to 400 F
1 cup (125 grams) flour (unbleached)
1/2 tsp (2 grams) sugar
1/8 tsp salt
6 TB (3/4 stick or 85 grams) unsalted butter, just softened
3. 5 TB (50 ml) chilled water
See Notes about what kind of flour to use, and about pastry chilling time.
Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces. If you review the Smitten Kitchen recipe - she uses a stand mixer (with the whisk attachment, I think). I use my food processor.
In the food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt and 2 TB of butter. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal - no large lumps. Add the remaining 4 Tb of butter and pulse only a few times until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. Through the feed tube, dribble in the water and keep pulsing until the dough comes together. If necessary to bring the dough together, gradually add an additional 1-3 tsp of water.
Shape the dough into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. I hate this step (See Notes), but with this recipe I can use the time to prep the apples.
Remove the chilled dough and let it rest at room temperature until it is malleable. On a lightly floured surface, roll into 14" round about a 1/4" thick. Alternatively, these days, many bakers are suggesting to roll the dough out between sheets of parchment. Place the dough into the tart pan (or on a parchment lined bake sheet if going free-form).
2 lbs (910 grams) apples (see Notes)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, melted
3-5 tablespoons (65 grams) sugar
Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/8 - 1/4" slices, leaving them neatly aligned. See Smitten Kitchen's photo. (See Notes re saving the peels for a glaze - optional.)
Position the sliced apples into (onto) the pastry. If using a tart pan, start at the edges and work your way to the centre. (Just the opposite if going free-form.) Take a second to view the pictures provided by Smitten Kitchen - she places the apples upright in what she calls "armadillo" style. The other source recipes use a more flat layering approach. Much depends on the quantity of apples. I have tended to "armadillo" them.
Fold the pastry that is hanging over the pan back up over the apples - this will look rustic. Brush the melted butter over the apples and the pastry edge. Sprinkle sugar over the dough and apples - you may find that 3-4 TB is enough. Bake with the rack in the centre of the 400 F oven for about 45 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes, until crust is golden.
1/4 cup melted apricot jam or apply jelly
Warm the jam / jelly to make it spreadable. If using apricot jam, you may want to remove or squish larger chunks. Spread the warm jam over the apples. This is best when served fresh and warm - though leftovers are still tasty!
Notes and Tips...
- Flour - Pépin uses regular all-purpose flour, but Waters and Perelman use unbleached. In brief - unbleached has not been treated with a chemical to make it white, and is considered to have more nutrients, and is better for pastries. [Read More}
- Refrigerate / Chill Dough - not going to lie - I hate this step. Why is it necessary? The dough gets hard, and has to soften again so I can roll it out!!?? Seems that it has something to do with gluten and moisture. There seems to be some consensus that a 30 minute chill is just fine. Here's an interesting read comparing chilled and not chilled pie dough. And while we're on the subject, you may enjoy reading about "Science of Pie Dough Myths".
- Apples - Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Empire, Cortland or Honey Crisp
- Glaze - the Smitten Kitchen recipe has you saving the peels and the cores, to be cooked down into a syrup. I did that once and you can see the peels in the photos, but after that first time, I didn't bother with that fancy pants step. The glaze you will eventually need can just as easily be in the form of melted apricot jam or apple jelly.
- Variations - add a pinch of nutmeg and/or lemon zest to the sugar before sprinkling it over the apples; the Food 52 recipe warms the oven to 425 F, and after the first 20 minutes lowers the oven temp to 375 F for an additional 30 minutes. If baking a free-form galette, Perelman suggest placing the bake sheet on a pizza stone - if you hae one.
- Make Ahead - pastry can be made ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to two days. Let it sit at room temperature a bit before rolling out.
- For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.