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!