Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Apple Tart with Oat Crumble and Apple Infused Caramel

I accidentally made a tart. Yeap, you read that correctly. I accidentally made a tart.

Initially, I was trying to make hand pies. But my first attempt at those failed abysmally. And they didn’t even involve apples. I was trying a new recipe for dinner with my neighbors and it was the dough and the oven versus me and the timer. Sadly, I was on the losing team. Something, somewhere just didn’t quite go right. My neighbors still ate them, bless their hearts. And, they inspired me in the process!  

With a mouth full of less-than-impressive hand pie one said, “How quickly do apples go bad? You’ve got, like, eight sitting here.” He motioned to my overflowing fruit bowl. Apparently, no proper single gal has eight apples sitting on her counter. I decided not to tell him I had more apples in the fridge…

I knew that despite eating one or two apples a day as a snack, they were going to go south before I got around to finishing them. I figured baking with them would be the best use of my time, but I couldn’t stomach the idea of more cake. Then I remembered the extra pie dough sitting in my fridge and knew exactly what I would do. An apple tart!

When the going gets tough, the tough make tarts.

This tart is incredibly easy, incredibly forgiving, and pretty darn attractive, if I do say so myself. The crust and apples are cooked separately and then combined to bring in a third a element, an apple infused caramel oat streusel. Using the syrup that the apples were cooked in to create a quick caramel sauce was a stroke of brilliance. It is sweet, tart, scented with apples, and, most importantly, made without a candy thermometer. All of the flavors meld together so seamlessly in this tart that the different textures provided by the crust, apples, streusel, and caramel sauce are not only delightful, but essential.

Apple Tart with Oat Crumble and Apple Infused Caramel (makes one 9 inch tart)

1 recipe pie/tart dough, you can use your favorite or this one from Dorie Greenspan is lovely

2 medium apples (I used Fuji)

1 TBSP lemon juice

2 TBSP all-purpose flour

¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

2 TBSP cranberry juice (or apple cider if you happen to have some, I did not)

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup old-fashioned oats

½ tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 inch tart pan and place on a large cookie sheet line with foil or a silicone mat. Butter a large piece of aluminum foil (large enough to cover the tart pan). Set all of this aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out tart dough to ½ inch thickness. Go slow here, rotating the dough often and making sure it isn’t sticking. Using parchment or waxed paper would work too. Or these fancy things called nonstick rolling mats.

When dough is even thickness, carefully transfer it to the prepared tart pan by gently rolling it over your rolling pin and then unrolling it loosely lover the tart pan. Press, but don’t stretch or pull, the dough along the bottom and up the edges of the pan. If there are holes or the dough tears, just patch it up. No one will know ;)

Place foil butter-side down over dough, pressing down gently to be sure it is secure.

Top foil with an even layer of pie weights, dried beans, or rice.

Bake crust in preheated oven 12 – 15 minutes, or until dough no longer has a wet, shiny appearance to it and has just begun to brown on the edges. Remove foil and bake for another 3 – 5 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While the crust bakes, peel and thinly slice the apples. Toss with the lemon juice and flour. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar, stir, and heat until boiling. Allow to boil for about five minutes, or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.

Remove sauce from heat and quickly whisk in the salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and cranberry juice. Mixture will seize and bubble like mad, just keep whisking.

Put pan back over medium heat and add sliced apples to sauce, stirring to coat. Simmer until apples are tender and sauce has thickened (increase heat if necessary to get sauce bubbling), about 3 minutes.

Pour apples and sauce over a mesh strainer and into a large glass measuring cup, so the apples remain in the strainer and the caramel flows into the cup. Allow apples to drain for a few minutes to be sure majority of the sauce has emptied into the measuring cup.

Spread cooked apples over the now cooled crust, arranging in a single(ish) layer. Set aside.

Reserve ¼ cup of the caramel sauce and place in fridge to cool. Return the remaining caramel to saucepan and put over medium heat. Allow to boil, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the flour, oats, and cinnamon. Pour the ¼ cup reserved caramel that has now cooled over the mixture. Using a fork, stir caramel into dry ingredients until crumbly. (If necessary pop into the fridge for a few minutes to make mixture more manageable.)

Sprinkle crumble over tart and press down lightly. Return tart to oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until crumble has just begun to brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire rack until slightly warmer than room temperature, slice, and serve with reserved caramel sauce drizzled over the top.

Tart can be refrigerated for two days and is best served at room temperature.

It is also essential that you make this for Thanksgiving! 

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