Huddle Up!

I have been reading too much.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is such a thing. One might even consider it some kind of disorder. If you think you may have such an affliction, ask yourself these difficult questions:

1. Does your reading impede your ability to do everyday tasks, such as grocery shopping, baking delicious treats, or putting gas in the car?

2. Has reading at the dinner table become a problem?

3. Do you look forward to bed-time, if only so that you may do your extensive reading in a more comfortable environment?

Well, you know the drill. If you answered yes to any of these questions, we should probably be friends…but never have a dinner together as it might be so quiet, our companions would fall asleep in their plates.

Maybe it’s the freeeezing cold temperatures, or maybe just good book choices, but it has kept me out of the kitchen a bit. Anyway, I was tring to come up with something to bring to a little dinner get-together last week and I just wanted something light and pretty and warm. Yes, so what if it was a Patriots game-watching throwdown. I am a lady, and sometimes I force my desserts on people. But, this came together so quickly and I don’t know if it was just the cold kitchen that helped me out with the dough, but this dough was breathtaking. Literally, I was saying outloud, while rolling it out, “Ooh, holy moly, this is….so smooth and pretty and easy”. Ryan was thinking I had completely lost my marbles. Or pie weights. (Which you totally don’t need here!)

Crispy Apple Tart
(adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters, a gorgeous book with the lovliest woodblock illustrations)

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

2 pounds apples (I used Fuji, but I think a more tart, firm variety would be better), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup sugar

MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.

DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.

PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400 F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)

OVERLAP apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples.

BAKE in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.

MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through sieve.

REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.

BRUSH glaze over tart, slice, and serve.


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