The Sunday Recipe: Rustic Apple Tart – Trial and Error

Rustic Apple Tart: Trial and Error

I’m determined to get this one right.

I started by making the recipe from Once Upon a Chef (OUaC).  I didn’t love it. Partially because I have different tastes and partially because I did a few things wrong. There may be a slight problem with the recipe. Mine leaked egregiously. Then I tried the McCormick Gourmet (MG) recipe  and that worked better for me. Again, not perfect, but I was getting closer. Here were the issues I encountered and the improvements on the second try.

Apples — OUaC called for 3 large apples, but also said you should have 4 cups of sliced apples. I don’t know how she was measuring or how big the apples would have to be to get 4 cups of sliced from 3 apples, but I think I overloaded the apples and ended up with too much juice from them. Looking back at her pictures, I wouldn’t call what she used 4 cups of sliced apples. McCormick’s called for 4 Granny Smith apples. I took it easy on the amount the second time around.

Flour — OUaC called for sprinkling a tablespoon of flour on the dough before putting the apples on, which doesn’t help to thicken the sauce much. MG called for stirring the spices with the flour then tossing with the apples. My tart barely leaked at all this time.

Dough Thickness — I rolled the dough out a bit thinner on the OUaC recipe and that could have contributed to the dough thinning and leaking in baking though it seemed like there were actual holes in the dough after baking. I was careful to only roll the dough out to 14 inches the second time around.

Refrigeration — OUaC has you refrigerate the dough while you prepared the filling then again for 15 to 20 minutes after you assemble the tart. I refrigerated it while I prepared the filling but only did 10 minutes before baking. That might have had an impact. MG has you refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before rolling it out. That does make it a big harder to work with but probably helps it not leak in the oven. Either way, I think you want to try to refrigerate it for an hour total before baking.

Temperature — OUaC called for baking the tart at 350 for an hour. I was concerned about that to start with because I know from baking scones that you need a higher heat to get the butter and flour to poof. I wasn’t shocked when it seemed like the butter melted and things leaked. With the MG recipe, it was crisper and only leaked about a teaspoon to a tablespoon.

Spices — OUaC called for a teaspoon of cinnamon. I think that was okay, but the night I made it we had spicy chicken wings just before we ate the tart and it tasted bland. The second day it tasted very pleasant to me. The MG recipe called for 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of ginger. I couldn’t taste the ginger and the cinnamon was just too much, it overpowered the apples. I’m definitely going with the teaspoon of cinnamon this time.

Sugar — The first time I used sugar with the OUaC recipe, the second time I used maple syrup.  It worked fine in terms of sweetening but was overpowered by the cinnamon so we didn’t even get a hint of ginger or even really taste the apples. Both of the recipes called for more sugar on the crust than I would ever use. The OUaC called for dusting the crust with 2 tablespoons then the top of the filling with 2 tablespoons. The MG recipe called for 1 tablespoon. Still too much for me. I used one teaspoon.

Egg Wash — Finally, both called for doing an egg wash on the outside of the crust, but a recipe for cobbler I use, calls for brushing the dough with cream then sprinkling with sugar so I went that route. Next time I’ll try the egg wash, I think.

Next time I intend to use the crust recipe, refrigerate well for at least an hour in total, roll it out to no more than 14 inches, use just 3 good sized or 4 medium apples, toss the flour with the apples, and use just a teaspoon of cinnamon. I’m not sure whether I’ll be baking at 400 degrees instead of 350 though. I kind of liked the softer dough from the lower cooking temp though my husband said he liked the crust on the second one a lot better. I guess that’s a matter of taste. I think being more careful about time in the fridge, size of dough, and tossing with flour might be enough to make it not leak so much.

I also intend to try one more time with a gluten free crust. I tried switching out the flour with white rice flour and tapioca when I tried to make puff pastry but it didn’t work very well. Oh, it tasted fine, but it didn’t puff well, so I’m a little leery. I see a really nice-looking crust recipe and it calls very specifically for one of two types of flour. I’ve ordered Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1:1 baking blend and look forward to trying it.