Monday, October 17, 2011

French Apple Tart

Apple pie is the quintessential American dish, but maybe you want something a little different this Thanksgiving.  This is a French apple tart, a fairly simple and delicious dessert that showcases the wonderful flavour of apples.  Unclouded by spices and excessive sugar, this tart lets seasonal apples shine through.  The recipe is veganized from Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking, but it is a pretty classic and standard dish: a baked apple sauce on the bottom and glazed sliced apples on top.  It is essential that you use baking apples (I used Royal Gala) so that they maintain some texture and don't reduce to total mush.  Then, you can use this basic recipe and go crazy: apple-cranberry-pecan tart, for example.  Feel free to add some cinnamon or nutmeg, or some brandy to the roasted apples.

Tart Pastry
- 1 1/4 cups (200g/6.5 oz) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (60g/2 oz) icing sugar
- 1/2 cup (125g/4 oz) cold margarine (Earth Balance)
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 2-3 tbsp cold coconut milk (or soy creamer/milk)

1. Whisk together flour and sugar.  Cut in margarine until mixture has large crumbs the size of peas.
2. Sprinkle flax over the water and 2 tbsp of the coconut milk, then whisk until goopy.  Add to flour mixture and mix with a fork until it comes together into a soft dough, dribbling in more milk if needed.
3.  Press dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour and as much as overnight.
4. When pastry is cooled, roll out into a 12-13 inch circle on a floured surface.  Carefully place dough into a 9.5 inch tart pan, letting the excess hand over the sides.

Trim overhanging dough to 1/2 inch.  Fold overhang into the pan and press dough into the pan to make a smooth and uniform shell.

5. Place shell in the freezer and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
6. When oven is a heat, line shell with aluminium foil and fill with dried beans.

Bake for 15-20 mins, or until crust has dried out.  After 15 mins, pull back some of the foil and check if it is wet/oily.  If it is, replace the foil and check again in two mins.
7.  Once dry, remove foil/beans, reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake for another 3-5 mins, until very lightly golden (you only want to partially bake the crust).  Let cool on a wire rack.

Apple Tart
- 2 lbs cooking apples (about 5), peeled, cored, and cut into uniform chunks (about 1 inch)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp margarine, melted

- 2 cooking apples, peeled cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp margarine, melted
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup apricot jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix together apple pieces, sugar, lemon juice and melted margarine in a large bowl and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 mins, or until soft and mash-able.  Mash until chunky and set aside to cool.
2. When cooled, spread into the cooled tart crust.

3. Layer sliced apples over the apple sauce like you see in the pic below.

Remember that the apples will shrink when cooked, so don't space them too far apart.  Brush lightly with melted margarine, then sprinkle sugar over top.  Bake for 45-50 mins, unit apples are soft.  Let cool on a wire rack for 30 mins.
4. Heat apricot jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve, then brush gently over the apples.  Serve at room temp.