Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apple Tart with Whole Wheat Crust

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

Apples are cheap right now and I have big plans for them. For starters, we've been eating several of them a day. For seconders, I've got a plan for sugar-free crock pot applesauce. For thirders, I've got tarts and pies and apple cakes calling my sweet sweet name.

This tart calls it particularly sweetly because it weighs in with only 5 Tbsp sugar for the whole thing and you can sub out nearly half of the flour with whole wheat and not even notice.

Still, I must warn you, it is not an apple pie. It shares many qualities with apple pie, such as apples, sweetness, and crust. But it is missing some key factors as well, such as at least 11 Tbsp sugar and a top. Go into it pretending you're perfectly French and then add a dollop of some homemade whipped cream or, heck, some creme fraiche over the top, and you'll be fine.

Approach it as an American ordering an "apple pie" from McDonald's and you'll keep wondering "Where's the beef?" Or something like that.

Not that I mean to downplay this little beauty in any way by pointing out that it isn't super sweet. One of the things I love about it is that it gives the apples a chance to come through. It's got no cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices (though you could certainly add them if you wished), so you end up with a lovely lightly sweet, very apple-y treat. That you can eat for breakfast. Uh-huh.

Apple Tart with Whole Wheat Crust
adapted from smittenkitchen
Makes 1 pie
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Cost: $2.45
(flours: .20, butter: .70, apples: 1.50 if you get sale apples, sugar: .05)

For crust:

1/2 C white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat will give it a stronger wheat taste, but I bet it'd work just fine)
3/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 C (1 stick) butter, cold
1 tsp sugar
2-4 Tbsp cold water

For filling:

2 lb apples or about 3 rather large apples (I used a granny smith and several golden delicious)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
5 Tbsp sugar, divided

Prepare your crust. I did mine (and always do) by throwing the dry ingredients into a food processor and then adding the butter and giving it a whirl until it's in pea sized chunks. Then I add the cold water, starting with 2 Tbsp and adding more if it won't come together. You want to stop the food processor just as the dough begins to come together.

Take it out and roll it out. (It helps to throw it in the fridge for 10-30 minutes, but I usually skip that because I lack dedication.) So I just flour my surface and do my best not to roll it into a parallelogram. I'm a terrible terrible roller. Thus, all my crusts end up looking sloppy rustic. It's a curse. But things taste good anyway. Roll out your crust. Patch the edges if necessary and flop it into a pie pan. Smittenkitchen says you can do a rustic little gallette too and I did a mini one this week with some dough leftover from my chicken pot pie.

It was excellent, but truly I liked the way the pie pan forced everything to stay put a little better.

Now peel and slice your apples. Try to get them nice and thin. Toss them with 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Then layer them into the pie pan by overlapping the slices around in a circle until you get to the center. (Then throw your extras on top in a haphazard fashion like I did. I tried to accordion mine into the pie pan, I did, but they didn't look so accordion-like.) Just overlap them and life will go on.

Fold any remaining crust over onto the apples and crimp it at inch intervals or wherever your very rustic design looks to need crimping. Brush the crimped edge with the melted butter. [Note: I've made this twice and forgot to do this the second time; it was still great, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the butter. It added something by way of flavor and texture to both apples and crust. So I highly recommend not skipping or forgetting the butter. Continuance of excessively long note: Don't you love that I mess all these recipes up so I can give you the skinny on how bad the mess ups make the final product.)

Then sprinkle the rest of your sugar on the apples and the crimped crust. It will look like a lot, and you can reduce it by a tablespoon or two if you wish, but that was too tart for Kip (not a problem; he just got some ice cream to go with, but still). The sugar will combine with the juices of the apples and butter to make a syrupy yum, so don't worry about it.

Bake at 400 in center of oven until apples are soft and a bit brown at the edges, or for about 45 minutes. I turned the pan at 15 minute intervals because the back of my oven cooks hotter than the front. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

Note (and it's another long one): Smittenkitchen used a simple syrup made from the apple peelings, cores, 1/2 C sugar, and enough water to cover. This stuff is simmered for (smittenkitchen said 25 minutes, but at that point, I still just had slightly sweet water) until it's thickened and reduced a bit. She then strained it out (yeah, I thought it seemed fussy too). Then, when the tart is done, she poured this over the tart. I did this and it was fine, but I found it unnecessary. My friend, however, who recommended this recipe also recommended watering down a bit of plum or berry jam to make a glaze and putting that on the tart. I thought that sounded yummy and pretty, but haven't tried it yet. Let me know if you do.

This tart is great warm (of course), but I actually love it best cold.


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