Spring into a Fresh Apple Tart
By Cal Orey
A typical French Apple Tart boasts a custard and cake-like shell for the fruit. However, in the 21st century many chefs take another route and forego the heavy filling and cake. Instead, a simple pie crust, plain apples, and a glaze give the dessert tart a rustic look, like the French treat, but it’s easier to make and it can be healthier, too.
Visitors often like to drop by to see me and the fur kids in the summertime but not during late March with our unpredictable snow and rain. I recall one spring night a friend drove over the hill to pay me a visit. She brought gifts. My two dogs were spoiled with squeaky toys and bones, and my cat was busy investigating his new cat tree. In the morning she was gone. An hour later there was a voice on the doorstep. “Knock, knock.” I said, “Who is it?” “Land shark.” “Land shark who?” I asked laughing while opening the door. It was my best friend with her arms full of a bag stuffed with pastries, like the ones we ate at hotels during my earthquake book signing tour in California. I dedicate this semi-homemade fresh fruit tart to my gal-pal with the heart of gold and the Golden State, a place touted for its fruit orchards and nut groves.
California Apple Tart
1 store bought single pie crust
5 Granny Smith apples, firm, cored (or use Fuji apples)
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
½ orange, juice
½ cup apricot jam, organic
1 tablespoon water
Confectioners’ Sugar for dusting
½ cup walnuts, rough or fine chop
Vanilla or vanilla caramel gelato
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Place the refrigerated pie crust roll on the counter for about 20 minutes. Put it into a pie dish. Crimp the edges with your thumb to give it a rustic look. On a cutting board, quarter apples, leave skins on, cut into thin slices and put in bowl. Mix the apples with sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Squeeze juice over the mixture and fold it in. Assemble apple slices in a circle around the pie crust and repeat until the apples cover the pie dish. Layer until the fruit reaches the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and apples are bubbly. Cool for about 10 minutes. Warm up jam with 1 tablespoon water and spread over apples. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dust with sugar and sprinkle nuts on top. Serves 8-10. Optional: Add a small scoop of gelato.
A double crusted apple pie is more for autumn and winter, whereas, an apple tart is lighter for spring with the apricot sweetness on top of the green apples. The savory spices give it an earthy flavor and are a perfect treat as we slide into a new season but have snow and rain with winter’s chill. It’s a versatile tart and can be served for breakfast with coffee, an afternoon snack paired with black tea, or dessert at night. Enjoying hotel and coffee shop pastries are good, but the scent of apples baking in your oven, and taking the first bite of a tart you made is great for you, your family, and unforgettable friends who make the trek to Tahoe year-round.