Sunday, July 4, 2010

0 Recipe #130: Fourth of July Apple Tart -- As American As Apple Tart :)

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OK, maybe the above phrase will never catch on, but even so, the apple tart has become part of the American culinary landscape. Not to mention, this recipe will still come pretty close to tasting a lot like apple pie. :)

Lucky you, I've got not one, but two, recipes lined up for you today, in celebration of Independence Day. :) The next recipe will be revealed later today.....

And speaking of the American culinary landscape, apple tarts do, in fact, have a long history here in the ole' US of A. Did you know that the early colonial Americans made apple tarts? In a cookbook published in 1796, entitled American Cookerywhich is, in fact, considered to be the first American cookbook, there's a recipe for apple tart. Also, Martha Washington herself had her own apple tart recipe, which was documented in her cookbook, Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery. So you see, apple tarts have, in fact, become as American as apple pie. :)

Happy Fourth of July!
-C



"Fourth of July" Apple Tart

This tart's got a balance of both sweet & tart flavors (pun intended!), just like a fruit tart should be, and will make your whole house smell good when you're baking it!

Crust Ingredients:
1/4 c. oats, ground (for flouring)
1 c. walnuts, ground
1 1/2 c. oats, ground
1 T. honey
2 T. orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. allspice
1 T. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. clove powder
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt

Filling Ingredients:
4-5 large apples, peeled, cored, & thinly sliced into 1/4" wedges (or 1/8" if possible)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (the juice of about 1 large lemon)
2 c. orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. honey, depending on taste preferences (optional)
1 T. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground clove powder
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice

Directions: To make tart crust: Put 1/4 c. oats in a food processor & pulse until finely ground into almost a flour-like consistency (or as close to it as possible!). Transfer to a small bowl. Next, repeat procedure with walnutes & (1 1/2 c.) oats, again pulsing until finely ground.  Add remaining crust ingredients and continue to pulse until thoroughly combined. Dough should be thick and stick together; do not over-mix or crust will be too hard when baked. 

Remove dough, scraping out remaining bits with a spatula. Form a dough ball & then place it upon a clean even surface uniformly floured with about 1/8 c. (half) of the ground oats mixture from the small bowl. (You might want to first cover your countertop with wax paper to make clean-up easier and faster.) Flour a rolling pin with the remaining 1/8 c. "oat flour," and roll out the dough ball until it's about 1/4" thick, always starting from the center outward, to form a large disc shape, about 12 inches in diameter. 

Carefully transfer crust to a 9" nonstick fluted tart pan (with removable bottom) or 9" pie plate, using your thumbs to press the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart pan/pie plate. You might need to work the dough with your fingers to help it spread out so that it reaches the upper lip of the tart pan/pie plate. Set aside. Please note: The tart crust can be made ahead & refrigerated until you're ready to bake the tart.

To make tart filling: In a separate bowl, mix together all liquid ingredients (lemon juice, orange juice, vanilla, and honey -- if using) and spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & allspice). Place apples into a large (12-13") sauté pan, covering them with the liquid mixture you just made. Make sure that apples are fully submerged in the liquid. Cook for 20 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to keep apples from sticking to the bottom of the pan. (You might need to cook the apples in two separate batches, depending on how large your sauté pan is. Make sure that the apples are evenly spread out onto the pan, without too much overlap, so that they cook all the way through.) Let cool. 

Using a pair of tongs, gently lay apples one on top of another, either arranging them in a slightly offset, concentric circle pattern, (fanning out from the center like in the left photo), or in an overlapping "pinwheel" formation. Continue to layer one apple after another, spiraling one layer on top of the other until you've reached two layers. Repeat the process for the remaining inner circle (i.e., where the hole is). Tip: It's easiest to fill in the hole in the center with apples immediately after the tart has reached one layer high, and then to add the next inner layer after the second outer layer has been completed. That way, it'll be easier to situate the inner layer without having to arrange the apple slices in a deep hole. :) Once you're done arranging the apple slices into a double layer, take the leftover apple slices & grind them up in the food processor. Use them to fill in the gaps between apples so that tart is uniformly filled. Pour a little bit of the residual liquid from the pan on top of the apples to enhance their flavor, but be careful not to drench them in too much liquid or else the tart will become soggy & will also overflow with liquid when cooked. On that note, it's probably a good precaution to place a metal baking sheet or aluminum tray underneath the tart pan/pie plate before you place it into the oven. Bake on 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until tart crust is golden brown. Check on tart occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove from oven & let cool on a cooling rack or trivet. As an optional treat, add a dollop of light whipped cream or scoop of lowfat vanilla ice cream. Serve while still warm.

Yield: Serves 6-8.

Chef's Notes: I used a combination of Granny Smith, yellow, & Fuji (red) apples, although you can use any combination of baking apples you like. Make sure that, whatever you do, you don't use Macintosh apples; these are not meant for baking. For a list of which apples are best for baking &/or for eating, please see this chart.

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