There’s never a better time than Fall to bake an apple tart. It’s cool enough to get the oven going, and the perfectly wistful memory of summer in the rust-yellow leaves on the sidewalks just makes me crave a warm, gooey treat.
More, the temperature is just right for the science of pie-making. While it is absolutely possible for a seasoned pie-maker to turn out a beautifully flaky-crusted pie or tart any time of the year, those who are newer at this might find they get better results in a fall or winter kitchen when it’s easier to keep all the ingredients cold.
Apple Pie is one of Desi’s favorites and I usually bake the deep-dish version with a top and a bottom crust because the crust, of course, is his favorite part (and mine!) But I just as often make this skinner tart because it’s much lighter. It also makes for an elegant presentation, so if you’re going to have guests you want to impress this would be a perfect choice.
When I first began making this tart, I’d make it open-faced and the concentric, overlapping circles of apples arranged inside the tart looked so darn pretty. But I always had many scraps left over after fitting the dough into the tart pan and it seemed a shame to waste perfectly decent pie dough, so I began to use the leftovers to make a lattice top. It looks quite pretty and besides, there’s nothing that cannot be improved by a little more pie crust!
The ingredient list for this pie is short and the procedure pretty straightforward. But remember to work fast with the dough and do not overwork it. Like I said, there’s some science that goes into making a perfect crust and it involves not letting the fat melt into the flour if you want those air pockets that make all those flaky layers, and not over-developing the gluten in your dough. So if you leave the dough sitting around on the kitchen platform while you go do the laundry, sorry, but your tart is going to a non-starter.
Here’s the recipe. Have a great weekend, all!
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp vegan butter
4 tbsp shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add the fat cut into pieces and, with a fork, cut it into the flour until bits of fat are evenly dispersed in the flour. You should not have pieces of fat any larger than a pea.
Add ice-cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing the dough with the fork, until it comes together.
Shape the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
While the dough chills, make the filling.
For the filling:
3 medium apples (I used the tart Granny Smith variety), deseeded, then halved, then cut into very thin slices
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes.
To assemble the tart:
On a floured surface, roll out the dough. The disc should be wide enough to at least fit into the bottom and sides of your tart pan. If you’d like a lattice top, make your disc about an inch wider.
Now fold the dough and lift it into a greased tart pan. With your fingers, delicately, push it into the corners of the tart pan.
Run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan. This will cut out the overhanging pieces of dough. Remove the scraps of dough and push them together into a disc. Refrigerate this ball of scrap dough while you arrange the apples in the tart pan.
Arrange the apples in concentric circles around the tart pan, starting with the outermost layer. You can, of course, use any arrangement you like or even just pile them in haphazardly, but the concentric-circle look is, to my mind, the most beautiful and traditional.
Pour any leftover juices in the bowl on top of the apples.
Now take the remaining dough and roll it wide enough that it would fit over the top of the tart pan. Using a pizza cutter or pastry cutter, cut it into thin strips (you can cut them wide or thin depending on how labor-intensive you want this to be)
Arrange the strips on top of the tart in a lattice pattern. You can find more detailed instructions on making a lattice top in my Maple-Drunk Apple Pie post.
Sprinkle about 2 tsp of sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon on top of the lattice.
Place the tart in a preheated 375-degree oven for 50 minutes until the juices bubble and top is a nice, light golden-brown.
Allow the tart to stand at least an hour on a rack before you unmold it.