I've been meaning to blog about this for ages. I don't know why I keep forgetting. This is probably the best apple tart I've ever had. Not just the best that I, personally have made, but the best that's ever been in my tummy.
I was having a bunch of people over for dinner and wanted to make a fancyish dessert. It was fall and the local apples are plentiful in Vancouver at that time of year so I tend to want to bake them constantly. I had also just seen Julie & Julia and had been thinking that I'd never even looked at a Julia Child recipe. I rather like veganizing recipes from well-known chefs. It makes me kind of excited that I can make something just as awesome as they did without using any animal products. That actually makes my version even more awesome if you ask me.
So anyway, I came across this recipe for an apple tart and decided to go for it. I followed the instructions to the letter. I know Julia Child is very specific in how everything should be prepared. I do think that kind of attention to detail can make all of the difference sometimes when baking. I don't usually arrange my apples so neatly, either. I'm more of a throw it all together and move it around later kind of gal, especially if I'm trying to cook a bunch of stuff at once.
This tart was flipping amazing. The crust was so flaky, it melted in your mouth. I have never made a crust like this before. You see all of those cute little apple slices on the top of the tart? Under those is another layer of apple. It's like a smooth apple butter consistency or something, maybe a little thicker. That different texture really added an extra bit of oomph to the tart. I felt like my tastebuds were singing and dancing when eating this. I can't wait for a reason make this tart again.
I used a combination of Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples in this. I firmly believe that the type of apple you use when baking makes such a big difference in the final product. I almost exclusively use those two types of apples in cooking. Pink Ladies are also one of my favorites for just eating. That apple has sort of a sweet-tart flavor. Not nearly as tart as a Granny Smith, but just as firm and crunchy. They hold up well when baking. Granny Smith apples are tart and slightly sweet, but sweeten up a bit more when baked. They're even firmer and hold their shape nicely. I've never had either of these apples get mushy on me when I cook them.
Check it out. You can see my cat, Phoebe eyeing the tart from across the kitchen. She was doing that the entire time I was taking these photos. I almost didn't notice! It cracks me up whenever I look at this picture. I love the way she's staring at it with those big eyes of hers. haha
Apple Tart (adapted from Julia Child's original recipe, which you can find here)
You can use a pie plate, but a tart pan with a removable bottom is best. I used a 9" tart pan.
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 oz cold Earth Balance, cut into little pieces
1/4 cup ice water
6 medium to large apples, peeled and cored, Granny Smith or Pink Lady are best
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 fluffy bread crumbs (you can always tear up some bread and toast it in the oven for this.)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 large apples, peeled and cored, preferably Granny Smith or Pink Lady
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the Earth Balance with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the ice water a little bit at a time until it's all incorporated. Be careful not to mix it too much. You don't want to get the dough too warm. Now turn the dough out onto a clean surface and gently knead it a few times just to get it to be a bit more like a dough. Be careful not to overdo it. You don't want to start forming gluten strings or make it too warm. Form the dough into a fat disc and wrap the dough in wax paper and chill for 2 hours.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/8" thick for a 9" tart pan. Gently press the dough into the tart pan. Chill again for about 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Line the inside of the dough with foil and pie weights (or you can use dried beans). Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the dough is just starting to get golden brown. You can take the foil and pie weights out now. Cool the crust on a wire rack while you're getting the filling together.
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Cut the apples into quarters. In a bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and bread crumbs. Toss the apples into the sugar mixture until everything is combined and the apples are a bit coated. Add the lemon juice and mix it up until it's incorporated.
Spread the apple mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the apples start to release some of their juices and start to form a sauce. You want them to be soft enough to mash.
Remove the apple mixture from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Once it's cool, gently spoon it into the cooled crust, smoothing the top so it looks even.
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking pan or sheet with foil or parchment paper. You want a pan that's big enough to put your tart pan inside. This is to catch any drips or in case anything cooks over.
Quarter, then slice the apples into 1/8" slices. Gently, toss the apples with the lemon juice so that you get as much of the apple surface coated as you can.
Arrange the apple slices in a well-packed circle, starting with the center and working your way out. Brush with the melted Earth Balance and sprinkle evenly with the sugar. I also ground some fresh cinnamon on top of mine.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is glazed and the apples are edged in black. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.