Hello October. Some of you have dreams of pumpkin spice anything dancing through your heads. I don’t. For me, October is all about apples. Crisp, tart apples with cheese, apples plucked straight from an orchard, apple pie, peanut butter and apples, baked apples filled with toasted pecans, hot apple-cranberry cider…I’m the Bubba Gump of apples.
Today, let’s discuss an apple tart—a gorgeous rose-shaped tart, courtesy of my friend Cash Colburn. We traded recipes one Sunday brunch; she taught me how to make the tart and I showed her how to dutch baby (recipe coming next week). This tart is great for dessert too, a snack or whenever you have a hankering for warm cinnamon-flecked apples.
Many thanks to Cash, aka the Queen of Tarts, for showing me how to turn apples into a rose and sharing the following recipe.
Apples to a Rose
Notes: While this looks incredibly complex and impossible, it’s mostly time consuming. Because this recipe is a bit more challenging (really just with the arranging), I’d like to share some things to keep in mind:
- A mandolin is a must. It’ll make the whole process go much quicker and you really need to have apple slices that aren’t too thick. I picked one up from Target for under $20.
- We used a springform pan so the tart could be removed and plated. If you love tart pans and can’t imagine this without one, go for it!
- When arranging the slices along the edge, the second layer of apple slices should be arranged in between the layer of slices. (Not sure what this means? Neither was I! For a visual, see the image to the right.) This creates the illusion of a rose. It’s fairly easy and actually kinda fun once you get started.
- If you are taking this to an event and want to bake it there, freeze it for about an hour first. This will keep it from warming up and getting misshapen in transit. I’ve kept mine in the freezer overnight with no problems, but an hour would suffice.
We used Macintosh apples with a layer of Granny Smith just for color. Macintosh is my favorite apple to bake with, but any type with a nice firm texture will do. [Bipartisan Baking Note: Try mixing Matsu with Pink Lady or Honeycrisp.)
- 1 lemon
- 7-8 apples (about 1 1/2 pounds ), cored and quartered
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, freshly ground is worth the extra step
- Pinch salt
Crust: Puff pastry, usually found in the freezer section, thawed
- Bourbon, straight up.
- Bourbon Glaze:
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 tablespoon water
- 9-inch springform pan
- Squeeze the lemon into a medium bowl. Using a mandolin (set on the second setting), slice each quartered apple into 1/8-inch slivers. As the apples are sliced, transfer them to the bowl and toss them with lemon juice; this will prevent them from browning. (Reserve one half of an apple for the tart’s center – we’re going to slice that later). To the bowl, add the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Carefully toss until evenly coated, the slices can break in half while tossing and that’s just a pain to work with.
- Lay your puff pastry into the springform or tart pan, making sure to press in any seams that have cracked. Leave the excess to be trimmed later. Arrange the apple slices side-by-side, starting closest to the edge of the tart shell. For the second layer, arrange the slices, overlapping them in concentric circles. (Different words, but same concept that was described in the headnote. Visual learner? See the photo above .) As you get to the center, you’ll need apple slivers that are very thin. Slice the reserved quarter of an apple very thinly (on the mandolin’s first setting) and arrange it until the gap in the center is completely closed. I’ve found this is easier to do by laying these slices on a cutting board, overlapping them very tightly, then rolling it up like a fruit roll up and popping it right into the middle. Trim the excess crust.
- If needed, transfer the pie to the freezer and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the edges of the crust with butter or bourbon and place the unbaked tart in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, checking it at the 20 minute mark to make sure all is ok, until the apples are lightly golden brown and the edges of the crust are browned. Allow to come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
(If you’re so inclinced to make the bourbon glaze, keep reading. If not, let the tart cool to room temperature and grab a fork. It’s apple-eating time.)
- Meanwhile, let’s make the bourbon glaze. In a heavy-bottomed medium pan, placed over moderately high heat, pour in the sugar. Using a silicon spatula, begin to stir until the sugar melts completely and turns a lightly golden brown. Cook for an additional 30 seconds or so, until the sugar turns a golden brown color. Immediately take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter. Once the butter has melted, pour in the bourbon and water. The mixture will bubble up, not to worry – this is normal, just keep stirring until smooth. If the mixture seizes, place the mixture over very low heat and keep stirring until it becomes smooth. The mixture should be thin.
- Brush the apples liberally with the warm glaze. You may have a tablespoon or two of extra glaze. I have been known to bake up the puff pastry slivers and brush them with the excess glaze to enjoy with a cup of coffee…