Recipe: Free-Form Apple Tart
Serves 6 to 8
For the crust (or substitute 1 square store-bought pie dough or puff pastry, thawed in the fridge overnight):
- 1 1/4 cups
- 2 tablespoons
- 1/4 teaspoon
- 7 tablespoons
unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces and chilled
- 1 to 3 tablespoons
ice water (or as needed)
For the filling:
- 2 to 3
large apples (about 1 pound) such as Rome Beauty, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Pippin, Gala, Cortland, or Winesap
- 2 to 4 tablespoons
brown sugar, depending on sweetness of apples
- 1/2 teaspoon
pure almond extract
- 1/3 cup
sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons
unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
For the glaze:
- 1/4 cup
preserves (apricot for a yellow/orange glaze, or raspberry for a pink glaze)
- 1 tablespoon
water or orange-flavored liqueur such as Cointreau or Triple Sec
To prepare the tart dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl until blended thoroughly. Using a pastry blender, metal pastry scraper, two knives, or your fingers, cut or rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (Work quickly to keep the butter cold.)
Using a fork, stir in the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, adding just enough for the dough to hold together without becoming wet. Gather the dough into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Wrap the disk of dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
→ Alternatively, mix the crust in a food processor: In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and process, using short pulses, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. With the machine running, add the water through the feed tube, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough begins to form into a ball. Remove the dough from the food processor and flatten into a disk. Wrap the disk of dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
When ready to make the tart, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
Flour a large wooden cutting board or pastry slab. Roll the dough into a rough 9" x 15" rectangle. (If the dough splits or becomes too soft to work with, transfer the board with the dough to the refrigerator and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.) Carefully transfer the crust to the lined baking sheet.
Form a shallow lip around the crust by folding over the edges on each side of the dough rectangle. If desired, create a decorative edge by pressing all around with the tines of a fork or by crimping the dough between your index finger and thumb to create a fluted edge. The final crust should measure roughly 6" x 12". Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
While the crust is chilling, prepare the filling. Peel (optional), core, and quarter the apples, then slice them into 1/8" or smaller wedges (a mandoline works well here). In a medium bowl, gently toss the apple slices with the sugar and almond extract.
Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator. Neatly arrange the slices, overlapping as you go, in two or three lengthwise rows over the bottom of the crust. Dot the top with the cubed butter.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, removing the tart halfway through and sprinkling the sliced almonds across the top. The tart is done when the crust is golden brown and apples have some color. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool slightly.
While the tart is baking, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, bring the preserves and water (or liqueur) to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened. If the preserves contain large chunks of fruit, transfer the glaze to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Strain the glaze through a mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing the glaze with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Use while still warm, or if it has cooled, warm it in a small pan over low heat.
When the tart is finished baking, remove it from the oven and brush the warm glaze over the top. Slice and serve immediately.