Photos by Stephanie Lai, Words by Michael Kolb
Looking for the perfect dessert to impress your friends and family with at your next holiday gathering? Then look no further! With just a little time and not too much effort, you can make the perfect French apple, or pear, tart in no time at all.
While reading the November issue of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, I stumbled across a sophisticated looking apple tart. Apple tarts and pies are some of my favorite classic desserts, so I wanted to take a complicated recipe and turn it into a simple, everyday dessert.
The following is my recipe for no-fuss apple tart. While I provided the steps to make the dough, if you don’t want to bother with making your own crust, you can always use store bought puff pastry instead. All the steps can be made ahead of time and finished at your leisure. The final product is delicious at room temperature, so it can be made the night before or even the morning of serving! This tart is perfect for impressing your friends or family at your next Holiday gathering or potluck!
No-Fuss Apple Tart
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
For the Dough:
1 1/3 cups All Purpose Flour
5 Tablespoons sugar
½ Teaspoon salt (I prefer kosher when baking)
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
10 Tart Apples, such as granny smith
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons water
½ cup Apricot preserves (or jelly), plus 3 tablespoons
¼ Teaspoon salt
Place one rack in the lower third of the oven and the other in the upper third of the oven, and preheat to 350°F.
For the crust: Sift the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Then stir in the melted butter with a rubber spatula until combined. Using your hands, take two-thirds of the dough and press it into the bottom of a 14”x11” rectangular tart pan (or a 9” circular pan). Then take the remaining dough and press it into the sides, taking care that the entire dough is in an even layer in the pan. Next prick the dough on the bottom with a fork, to prevent puffing. Finally, bake the crust on a sheet pan in the bottom third of the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown. When it comes out of the oven, if it has become misshapen you can take a butter knife and push it back into place, but this is not necessary.
For the applesauce filling: While the pastry is baking, peel, core, and roughly chop 5 apples. Then place these into a saucepan over medium heat with 1 Tablespoon of sugar and ½ cup of apricot preserves. Stir all of these together and cover, stirring occasionally, until the apples begin to break down, about 7-8 minutes depending on how large your dice was. Once softened break the apples up with a wooden spoon to make a chunky applesauce, set aside.
For the apple slice top: Peel and core the remaining five apples and slice them into ¼” thick crescents. Place these into a skillet (with a lid) then toss with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water and cover them over medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes. You want these to soften, but not to get any color or to break down; you want them to retain their shape so they can be layered attractively on top of the tart.
For the apricot glaze: Turn on the broiler of the oven. Take the remaining 3 tablespoons of the apricot preserves and microwave them on high for 30 seconds and strain though a fine mesh sieve to remove any chunks (though the straining is not necessary it adds a more elegant finish to the tart).
To Assemble and Finish: Take the tart shell and fill with the apple and apricot sauce filling, leveling off the top with a butter knife. Then layer the apples on top in an alternating pattern, like fish scales (or if you are doing a round tart you can do this or make a rosette pattern by going around with the apple slices in concentric circles). Then drizzle and spread the apricot glaze all over the top of the tart. Finally broil the tart, checking every thirty seconds or so, until it is attractively browned all over.