Has the Halloween sugar coma left? Uhh…no? Let’s just discuss apple tart anyway.
And not just any apple tart but Ina Garten’s French apple tart. Saying it’s French makes it so much fancier, right? However, it is deceptively simple. First, make a quick pastry dough and chill it. An hour later (or more), roll it into a rectangle and chill again while you prep the apples. Peeling, coring, and slicing the apples does take a little while, but you’ll be rewarded with a nice looking arrangement of apples over the pastry. Sprinkle with sugar and dot with butter, then throw it in the oven and forget about it for an hour. It will bubble and caramelize and almost burn to become completely delicious. To make the tart look shiny and pretty, brush apricot jelly or jam over the apples. Then cut yourself a generous square, and dig in. The pastry is flaky, with the burned edges shattering into a hundred buttery crumbs when you bite into it. The apples are tender and caramelized and moistened by the glaze. Buttery caramelized apple deliciousness.
French Apple Tart
adapted from Ina Garten
If you’re thinking ahead, yes, this would make the perfect Thanksgiving dessert.
For the pastry:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (3/4 cups, 1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
about 1/2 cup ice water
For the apples:
4 Granny Smith apples (or another variety of tart baking apples)
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup, 1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/4 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons water (or Calvados or rum)
For the pastry, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and toss to coat the butter with the flour. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is in small bits about the size of peas. Add most of the ice water, and stir with a rubber spatula. Add more ice water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. If you want the arrangement to look perfect, don’t use the end slices of apples. Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (my tart needed a good hour), until the pastry is deeply browned, slightly burned around the edges, and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. The apple juices will burn in the pan, but the tart will be fine. When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the water, Calvados, or rum and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.