Sunday, July 1, 2012

On the Menu: Rustic Apple Tart

Independence Day celebrations seem to call for desserts as 'American as Apple Pie.' Actually, what we know today as apple pie is a variation on the English Apple Tart (Tartys in Applis) dating back to 1361.

There were no apples in America before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. So, we can thank European explorers for bringing over the seeds and thank British pilgrims for their know-how in baking the Old World classic that we now consider oh-so-American!

Tarts are far easier to make than pie, and I love the rustic appeal of their presentation. Here's a simple recipe that makes a lovely apple tart.

Rustic Apple Tart Recipe

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups sliced peeled Golden Delicious apple (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 1/2 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
1 teaspoon ice water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon apricot preserves
1 teaspoon water

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar; cook 2 minutes or until sugars dissolve. Stir in apples and next 3 ingredients (through nutmeg). Cover, reduce heat, and cook 20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. Set oven rack to lowest third of oven.

3. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper. Roll dough into a 14-inch circle. Place dough and parchment paper on a baking sheet. Arrange cooled apples in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover the apple mixture). Brush dough with 1 teaspoon ice water, and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Bake the tart at 400° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Place the preserves and 1 teaspoon water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds or until bubbly. Brush the mixture over warm tart. Cut into wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature.

I might add that this is where a scoop of ice cream creates an 'a la mode' wonder that is hard to resist!

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