Saturday, October 8, 2011

Apple Tart: (or Forgotten Pie Crust; Best one Yet)

iPhone Pic
Sorry it's another apple dessert, but I'm getting my practice in for Thanksgiving!!

So, I had a few, lonley Honeycrisp Apples left from my Farmer's Market haul.  Not quite enough for a full blown pie, so I though an apple tart would show them off nicely.  I had bought an inexpensive tart pan a year or so back, which I have NEVER used. It even has fluted edges and a removable bottom; how very exciting!

I went back to my original pie crust recipe for this one, cutting in in HALF, because I just needed a tart 'bottom', with enough extra bits to fold over the edges.

Basic Flaky Pie Crust (Vegan)

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup margarine, non-hydrogenated (I use Earth Balance)
1/4 cup ice water, plus 1 tbsp ice water as needed

Now, I don't usually commit to making pies on weeknights, but the urge was there, so I went with it.  I cubed up all my shortening and Earth Balance on a little plate, measured out my flour in a stainless steel bowl, and proceeded to place them both in the freezer to chill, as I always do.  And then, fell asleep...

I woke up, slightly dazed, and decided that the crust ingredients would be fine in the freezer until tomorrow, and went to bed.  And they were.  Next day after work, I figured I'd better make this bad boy, so I pulled out the butter and shortening cubes to let them thaw, so as not destroy my food processor when I pulsed.  The dough came together nicely. So, I scooped it out into a disk, wrapped it in saran wrap and placed it in the fridge to chill for 40 mins. And then, my urge to bake a tart had suddenly left...

"Well, the crust is done, and ready to go," I thought.  "I'll just bang this thing out tomorrow when I'm fresh."

Okay, THURSDAY night after work (I started this on Tuesday...) THURSDAY, I came home from work, determined to have apple tart made, come hell or high water! I pulled my 'crust disk' out of the fridge to get the chill off before I rolled it out. I peeled three (3) apples, sliced them with my apple slicer and THEN cut each slice into 4, to make beautiful, thin pieces.  The crust rolled out like a dream.  I think I let it get a bit more room temperature than normal, which is odd because I am usually paranoid about the crust getting too warm.  Perhaps, that is part of my problem... rolling the dough out too cold(?!)  Anyhow, the crust fit nicely into the tart pan, with just enough hanging over to fold. But I felt the fat melting a bit, so I put the crust into the freezer while I finished preparing the apples.

I read a couple of different tart recipes online where the sugar and spice were sprinkled over the apples after they were arranged in the tart pan.  So, I went to work arranging my little apple slices in co centric circles, overlapping each other, working from the outside, in.  I then sprinkled them with 2 TBSP of sugar, about 1 tsp of cinnamon, and then a few shakes of Cinnamon PLUS from Pampered Chef (cinnamon, nutmeg,  allspice and a bit of orange peel).  I folded the edges of the crust over onto the outer edge of the apples, and brushed the entire top with 2-3 tbsp of melted Earth Balance.  For an extra, special good measure, I also sprinkled the crust with extra sugar and cinnamon.

Bake your lovely tart at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  Many of the tart recipes online also had the last and final step of glazing the top, right out of the oven, with a type of jam or jelly.  I had in the fridge, a jar of Holiday Jam, from Stonewall Kitchen, which is a mixture of pear, cranberry and raspberry with a hint of orange. I thought this fit the bill nicely, and the jar was almost done.  So I nuked what was left in the microwave, about 2 tbsp, and brushed the top of the entire tart before it cooled.

I don't know if it was freezing the butter/shortning cubes overnight, letting the dough rest in saran overnight, putting the rolled dough in the freezer before I baked it, or dousing the whole top in Earth Balance, but the crust on this tart was one of the BEST I have ever made OR tasted.  So flaky and delicious, and omni-approved; it absolutely melted in your mouth.  My boss at work, (the Martha Stewart of cakes and baking I call her) even asked for the recipe.  And, my mother requested this tart (not apple pie) for Thanksgiving.  Well, hey, I'll take it... Impressing people with vegan treats always puts a smile on my face ^_^