Every year at Thanksgiving my mother-in-law prepares a delicious and abundant feast and my sole responsibility is to make this apple pie with a cheddar cheese crust. I take this task seriously. Along with clothes for the weekend, a good book for the plane, and all the other things you need when traveling for the holidays, you’ll find a bench scraper, pastry blender, and decorative cookie cutter in my bag. TSA has never stopped me.
I typically make this pie a couple of other times during autumn. I’ll teach students how to make it in a cooking class, prepare it as a sweet ending for a private dinner, or succumb to my husband’s many requests for it to grace our table. When it comes to apple desserts, this pie is my go-to.
But I have other favorites and this rustic apple tart with white wine syrup is one of them. This is a homemade apple dessert for when you don’t have time to make a full-blown apple pie. It comes together quickly, has all the components of a pie without the work, and yet still packs oomph thanks to a delicate white wine syrup. I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often.
I know some of you are already thinking about cutting corners and buying a pre-made pie dough to get this on your table even quicker. Don’t. I’d get on my soap-box again, but for frequent readers I’m sure it’s getting old.
So let me just say (as I climb on up there) that mastering pie dough (along with knowing how to roast a chicken) is one of the culinary skills that everyone should know. Seriously. How deliciously wonderful would this world be if everyone knew how to make pie dough?
I know the thought of making pastry dough makes you break out in hives, but give it a whirl, and maybe another whirl, and perhaps one more. But that’s it. Because I’m pretty sure that by the third try you’ll have it mastered and you’ll be rightly proud and everyone who eats your homemade pastry dough will worship at your feet. Mastering pastry dough is a powerful, powerful thing – it’s like dark magic, but for good.
Speaking of magic, the white wine syrup is a must and packs surprising flavor for consisting of nothing more than white wine, sugar, water, and cloves. It’s mandatory to serve with the pie and dynamite when you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the mix. It’s also very easy to make so no excuses.
As for the apples, be sure to select baking apples and use more than one variety. I love Rome Beauty, Fuji, and Granny Smith when baking, but experiment with your favorite baking apples to find a combination that works for you. Happy cooking!
Rustic Apple Tart – Printer Friendly Recipe
For the pastry dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
5 tablespoons ice cold water
For the tart:
3 large baking apples (Fuji, Rome Beauty, and Granny Smith), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1 cup white wine
3 whole cloves
1/2 cup water
1 egg, lightly beaten with a little water or milk
Raw or granulated sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Cut the 8 tablespoons of butter into small cubes. Use two forks or a pastry blender to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the fat is in small lumps. Sprinkle the ice-cold water over the flour mixture and use a fork to pull the mixture together. Add up to 1 more tablespoon of water, in teaspoonfuls, if the dough is not coming together. Turn the dough out on the counter and, working quickly, mold it into a large ball. Press the ball into a 5-inch disc. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes and up to one day.
While the dough is resting, toss the apple slices with 1 tablespoon of sugar, the flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Bring the remaining 1/2-cup sugar, the white wine, cloves, and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring and let the mixture boil until it is reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove the saucepan from the heat, remove and discard the cloves, and set aside.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to a large 1/4-inch thick circle. Use the rolling pin to transfer the dough from the countertop to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon the apple slices into the middle of the pastry dough leaving a 1-1/2 inch border. Fold the pastry dough up around the apples, until the apples are contained and the edges covered by about 1-inch of the pastry dough. You will need to pleat the edge to make it all the way around. Brush the exposed dough with the egg wash and sprinkle it with sugar.
Bake the tart for twenty minutes. Remove it from the oven and pour 1/2 of the wine syrup over the tart. Bake the tart for another 20 minutes. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream drizzled with the remaining syrup.
The wine syrup will thicken as it cools. If the syrup is too thick, simply reheat the syrup and whisk in a little water.