Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Vanilla Bean Apple Tart

"Some days, you just gotta have pie".  You may quote me.  However, if you're going to be technical and call me on the fact that this recipe is not a pie, but rather a tart, then I stand corrected. 

OH how I wanted an apple pie the other day......but I wanted something that would be ready a lot faster than a traditional pie, and also a bit lighter tasting. And this, my dear friends, is why I like to make rustic fruit tarts. They are easy and delicious.

This tart does not have a gooey, sugary filling, but a more fresh texture to the apples (which is what I prefer).  I decided to add the seeds of half a vanilla pod, with a capful of vanilla extract and POW! What fantastic flavor!

If you have a pie crust recipe that you love, go ahead and use it for this. But after experimenting with a pure butter crust, a 1/2 butter & 1/2 shortening crust, and a pure shortening crust.....I'm inclined to go with the pure shortening crust. It ALWAYS turns out flaky. My choice of shortening is a NON-Hydrogenated brand called "Spectrum". I found it at Pavillions, but I'm sure it's available anywhere now because people are finally getting hip to the fact that we are killing ourselves with hydrogenated foods! 

This crust recipe comes from my friend (and very fine drummer), Doug Mathews - who is a crazy good foodie type.'s how you do it:


(for the crust)
1/4 C warmed milk (not too hot!)
1 1/4 C flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 TBL shortening

 (for the filling)
4 apples (I like Gala but you can use whatever kind you like)
1/4 C sugar
squeeze of lemon (about a teaspoon - not too much)
1/2 vanilla pod
1 capful of vanilla extract
2 TBL unsalted butter

a little milk for brushing the crust
2 TBL sugar (for the crust)


PRE-HEAT oven to 400.

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, 1 tsp sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. Add shortening, and mix with hands until crumbly and sandy. Add warmed milk, just until combined (you may not need all of the milk) and mixture forms a ball. Do NOT overwork the dough!

3. Form into disc between some plastic wrap and chill for about 15 minutes.

4. Peel, core and slice apples. In a bowl, combine apples with lemon juice, 1/4 C sugar, the vanilla extract and seeds from the vanilla pod.

I love using a melon baller to core apples. Easy!

Split the bean in half, lengthwise, and scrape out the precious seeds with the back of your knife.

5. Roll out the dough into a large circle (about 14 inches). I like to roll my crust on a silpat mat, with plastic on top, then transfer it, but if you have a way you like to do it - go for it!
Transfer the crust onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

6. Pile the apple mixture in the middle and begin to bring the crust over the apples, folding and creasing as you go around. 

7. Dot the fruit with the 2 TBL of butter. Lightly brush the edge of the crust with a little milk and sprinkle with the 2 TBL of sugar.

8. Bake for about 40 minutes. If crust begins to brown too much, cover the edges with some foil as you would with any other pie (as you would).

Let it cool a bit before devouring.


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