Wednesday, June 10, 2009

MrMartha's Freeform 'Double Apple' Tart

Here's a favorite of MrMartha's -- perfect for the upcoming July 4 celebrations, a nice summer dessert when entertaining, or an indulgent weekend treat anytime.

It's known as 'Double Apple' because, before baking, the filling is comprised of both precooked and raw apples. The finished tart has a wonderful contrast in textures, as well as incredibly rich and complex flavors.
The freeform crust shaping is simple to achieve and gives the tart both a casual feel, and a certain easy elegance. Just about any type of apple can be used, adjust your sugar amount up and down a bit depending on level of tartness or sweetness of your variety. Golden Delicious are always easily available, and hold their shape fairly well when cooked....but dont be afraid to experiment.

By combining the two different apple preparations in the same tart, you get an intensely flavored, softly textured apple mass as the main focus, with a decorative, slightly chewy, layer of thinner apple slices above. The freeform crust holds it all together nicely. While there are a few steps involved to get a beautiful result, it is really not that difficult, and well worth the effort.

A hint to save time -- you can easily use prepared refrigerated pastry's not quite the same as homemade, but if you are dough-o-phobic (get over it!) or short on time, it will work. Just be sure to allow it to come to cool room temperature and roll it out slightly thinner than it comes from the package before using.

Read More for the Full Recipe, Step by Step Instructions, and More Photos.

1 Recipe of Pastry Dough for 9" double crust pie, or package of premade refrigerated Pastry Dough (if you dont have a favorite recipe, some excellent options from well known cooks and chefs are HERE. )

6-10 apples depending on size. about 6 cups overall when prepared.
1/2 to 1 Cup Sugar (to taste)
Pinch of Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour (adjust a bit if needed, depending on liquid amount exuded from apples.)
1/2 Teaspoon (or to taste) Ground Cinnamon or Apple Pie Spice Blend (optional)
Good squeeze of Fresh Lemon Juice (optional)

Additional sugar and butter to top tart before baking

1 Egg beaten with 1 Teaspoon of Water -- for Pastry Glaze
2 Tablespoons Apricot Jam -- to Glaze Apples

Peel and pare the Apples. Slice into 1/4" wedges, until you have a generous 4 cups worth.
Melt the butter in a non stick pan that will hold the apples without over crowding.
Add the apples and cook over medium-low heat until the start to release their juices and just start to change texture and become slightly translucent.
Stir and toss carefully, so as not to overwork the apples -- you want nice slices, you dont want them to disintegrate.
Add the sugar, flour, and salt, add cinnamon and lemon juice if desired.
Continue to cook briefly till the juices of the apples thicken.

Remove from heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl in a shallow layer, and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, slice the remaining apples approx 1/8" thick, and toss lightly with a little lemon juice and sprinkle of sugar.

Roll out pastry to a round approx 16" diameter for a single large tart. Working with a round of pastry that size takes a little dexterity, so you can also divide the dough in half and make two smaller tarts, or into quarters and make four tarts.

Position the dough onto a sheet of baking parchment , a Silpat, or directly on a flat baking sheet.
Place the cooked apple filling into the center of the pastry so there is a border of pastry remaining 2-3" all the way around.

Place the remaining raw apple slices in a decorative radiating pattern over the cooked filling as shown in photo. Carefully fold the pastry up and over the center filling, being careful not to break or rupture the crust. Do this slowly, deliberately, and -- as Julia Child would say, "with the courage of your convictions" -- and it should go just fine.

Sprinkle a little more sugar over the raw apple slices, dot a few thin slices of butter around the apples as well, and lay a round of waxed paper lightly over the exposed filling. If the crust seems very soft, pop the baking sheet into the freezer for just a couple minutes to firm it, prior to baking.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the tart, take off the waxed paper round, and quickly glaze the crust with the egg wash. Return to the oven and bake till the crust is nicely browned, and the sliced apples are just starting to color and carmelize. LIkely about 30 more minutes, depending on your oven.

Remove baking sheet, and allow to cool. If desired, glaze the apples with some heated, slightly thinned Apricot Jam. touch the apple slices lightly with the brush to glaze. if you try to 'paint' the glaze on, the apple slices may shift.

Enjoy the wonderful combination of deep apple flavor in the soft filling, with the slightly chewy texture of the apple slices on top. A little vanilla ice cream, or some lightly whipped cream are all you need to complete this wonderful treat.