I think I’ve probably already said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating: I love fall. I ADORE fall. Autumn is my favorite season – although I will admit that I’m also very partial to winter. However, since fall brings me by much-loved Pumpkin Spice Latte and other equally delectable yummy treats of earthy, warm and spicy goodness, fall kind of wins.
Last night, I decided to make a little treat for my husband: my RUSTIC APPLE TART. He’s been working really hard – and has still been making an effort to spend quality time with me even though he’s often so tired that he can barely keep his eyes open past 9pm.
The first time I made this was a few years ago – it was after tasting something similar from a bakery that made my mouth water a few weeks later and I just HAD to have it again. It was unusually moist, so I bought another pastry and sort of took it apart to figure out what I was tasting – and I realized that the key to making it moist was the applesauce. I’ve made this dessert of sorts a few times, and the best part about it is that you can tweak it to use different versions of the basic ingredients (depending on what’s available or what you have on hand), which are:
– premade pastry (I much prefer puff pastry, but in a pinch pie dough will do)
– apple sauce or apple butter (the first time I made it, I used Mott’s; this time I used organic spiced apple butter because it’s what I had on hand)
– apples (I tend to use Granny Smith because I love me some tart apples, but for this one I used Gala apples – I only buy organic apples now but you can pretty much use any kind of apple you’ve got)
– spices, sugar and butter (I melt about 2 tbsp of organic unsalted butter, eyeball however much I want to use in spices – usually a combination of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon – and prefer brown sugar but will use white in a pinch)
So here’s what you do:
- Defrost 1 sheet of puff pastry according to package direction; once defrosted, unroll it onto a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
- Preheat oven. I used a Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheet, which says to bake them at 400F, but I always bake things lower so I can make sure they don’t burn – I heated my oven at 350F.
- Spread applesauce or apple butter liberally all over the pastry sheet.
- Peel and core about 2-3 small apples of choice; slice while you work to fan them down in rows. (I do one apple at a time to avoid browning.) Cover entire pastry sheet with apple slices
- Melt butter and spices in microwave; apply all over apples with a pastry brush. Alternatively, you can just drizzle it with a spoon
6. Using your (clean!) hand, sprinkle sugar all over the apples (optional). I’ve toyed with trying a streusel topping but that seems a little too involved for this.
7. Put the cookie sheet into the oven and check periodically. (Sorry, I can’t remember how long it took since I never set a clock – I just check it now and then.) Once the edges of the puff pastry start to look golden, use a spatula to check the bottom as well – at this point I turned it up to 375F for about 5 minutes or so and then about 3 minutes under the broiler to brown the top.
8. If the puff pastry ends up really puffy – which is what initially happened with mine – just carefully slide a sharp, pointy knife in to release the hot air and it will deflate. I use a pizza cutter to cut the tart into squares or rectangles, and store leftovers wrapped in parchment paper at room temperature – that way it doesn’t dry out.
9. Enjoy with a fresh cup of coffee and some wonderful whipped cream!
(I prefer to make whipped cream from scratch: I used heavy cream, muscovado sugar and a liberal dose of pumpkin pie spice. YUM YUM!)
(PS: Please accept my apologies for the tiny pictures – I have absolutely ZERO idea of why they keep automatically being resized when I upload them. If anyone knows the magic remedy, HELP!)