My mom Genny, an occasional subject on this blog, is coming from dinner this evening. She requested something simple – “just hamburgers, or whatever” – and instructed me not to go to any trouble. Well, I can’t have my mom over for Mother’s Day dinner without preparing some kind of dessert.
This rustic apple tart, originally found in my Better Homes & Gardens Baking book as a peach tart, was my first foray into free-form pastry baking and I think it turned out fairly well. The apples in the center look a bit dry to me, so I’m stocked with vanilla ice cream (both of the dairy and non-dairy variety, as Genny lives a low-dairy life) just in case. I actually suspect that I should have glazed the apples with apple or apricot jam after the tart baked to make them shiny. Eh, maybe next time.
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- About 5 tablespoons cold water
- Milk, for glazing
- Sugar, for sprinkling
For the filling
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons flour
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
- 3 cups peeled, sliced apples (I used Granny Smith and McIntosh)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To make the crust, in a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening using a pastry blender or fork, then sprinkle in 1 tablespoon cold water at a time, tossing it in the dough to combine so it sticks together. You’ll still have some dry bits of flour in the bowl – that’s okay.
Place a large sheet of parchment on your countertop and pour the crust mixture onto it. Use the parchment to bring the dough together, pressing it into a rough rectangle. For an amazing look at how to do this, check out this video from King Arthur Baking. Set the dough aside in the fridge while you make your filling.
To make the filling, stir together sugar, flour, and apple pie spice. Add apples and toss to coat.
Remove crust from the fridge; place a second sheet of parchment on top of it and roll it out to about a 13-inch circle. I flipped my crust over at this point so my original piece of parchment could get discarded.
Place the crust on a rimmed baking sheet and add apples into the center, leaving about a 2-inch border around the sides. Fold the sides in to create the pleating; brush crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Around 30 minutes, cover the exposed filling with a circle of foil to prevent burning.
Cool on a wire rack; store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day or in the fridge for 2 days. Makes 8 servings.