Olivia Dish

Tart for Dinner

In Cookbooks, Homemade, Kitchen Equipment on September 22, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I'm quite sure I heard them say "bake me"

Pies take time to make.  But get carefree, dare I say even a little sloppy, call it a rustic tart (or as some do, a galette), and you’ve got pie without the prep time.  I’m not sure it makes sense. But I know it’s true.

I have to set aside a chunk of time to make an apple pie.  Time to peel and core and cut up the apples.  Time to make the crust, roll it out, weave the lattice top.

I enjoy making a proper apple pie, but I don’t always have the time to do it.

A perfect excuse to break out the apple plates.

Yesterday, I threw together a rustic apple tart, though, on a day when I was so busy I should have ordered Chinese take out.

What made that so quick while an apple pie takes so long?  It’s a lot of little choices that add up.

Halved my favorite recipe for pie crust

Time-saver number one: I went small, cutting my basic crust recipe in half and using just two medium-sized apples.  Less to peel, less to slice.

Time-saver number two: make the crust in your food processor.  I used 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of water.  Everything (except the salt) was ice cold.  Flour and butter into my food processor for cutting in, then the water added bit by bit until the flour can hold together in a ball.  If the dough doesn’t form a ball in the processor, I dump the crumbly pieces onto some plastic wrap and press it together.  I make a flat 1-inch think disc of plastic-wrapped dough and put that in the freezer for a few minutes.

My cheapy slicer and ancient Little Oscar make it easy as, well...

Time-saver number three:  using my cheapy-slicer-that’s-like-a-mandolin (the same tool I use to slice potato chips) to slice the peeled apples. The thin apple slices went into a bowl with a splash of orange juice, several tablespoons of brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of flour.  Not only was that a speedy way to slice, but the thin slices seemed to cook more quickly.

Time-savers number four, five and six: Roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap—and don’t’ worry about the shape.  It’s “rustic.”  Then set the dough in the center of a rimmed cookie sheet, pile the apple mixture in the center, dot with butter, and roughly fold the edges of the dough up and over to create a sort of misshapen, flattened bowl.  No worries, or time spent, getting a perfect round with fluted edges or a lattice top.  Heap, fold, and you’re done.

Oh, so rustic

I baked my rustic tart in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or so, until the crust was brown and the innards were bubbly (and yes, set the oven to preheat before you start making the crust).  It was fantastic, as good as any pie I’ve spent lots more time making.  Even better than some I’ve made.

One reason had to be the ingredients I used for the crust.  I like most any homemade crust, tender and flaky with butter or lard. But I used pastry flour from Anson Mills and farm-fresh butter and both had so much more flavor than the standard grocery store stuff. The flour, in particular, tastes like something—rich and nutty, full of flavor—but compatible with the pie, not too muscular the way that French Toast made with whole wheat bread can be.

Anson Mills Flour

Flour with flavor

The apples were good too. Despite the thin slices, they held up nicely. I have no idea what kind of apples they were. My neighbor had a surplus and gave the to me.  In the past, I’ve had similar results with Fuji apples, so I’m wondering if that’s what they may be.

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