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It's apple pickin' time

Published: Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 2:47 p.m. CDT

It’s as American as apple pie. That’s the old saying, and we Americans feel apple pie belongs to us. Even though apples have quite an international history, apple pie couldn’t be more beloved than here in the United States.

Many of you are customers at some of the apple orchards in our area. Fresh-picked bags of apples await us in a dozen varieties, great for a snack, for roasting or for pies or tarts. Today’s recipe is a free form apple tart. When I was in culinary school one of my instructors told us there are two differences between pies and tarts: tarts are smaller and tarts cost more.

Now I know none of you are looking to sell apple tarts, but baking something a little fancier might bring a smile to the faces of your family. You might consider par baking some apples and keeping them portioned in your freezer. Just preheat your oven to 400. Peel, core and slice a bag of apples, toss them with a little sugar and divide between two 9-by-13 baking pans.

Bake them for a total of 10 minutes, removing them after 5 minutes and giving a quick toss. Cool and portion into freezer bags. Refrigerate overnight and then into the freezer with them. When thawed, these are good for pies, tarts, cakes or just about anything that calls for apples.

If you use these par baked apples for today’s recipe you may skip the sautéing of the raw apples.

First the pie dough. Yes, I want you to make your own, follow my recipe and everyone will be happy. But, if you must use store-bought frozen pie dough, handle it following the directions on the package.

Pie Crust

1¼ cups all purpose flour

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into quarter-inch slices

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup ice cold water, or more

Place flour, butter and salt in food processor and pulse until a rough texture is achieved, (butter will be tiny pieces). Add the water and pulse until dough is just sticky, turn out onto a floured surface. (All of this can be done by hand, it just takes a little longer.) Work dough with your hand 2 or 3 times only, then compress into a ball and flatten until about ¾ of an inch thick.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

When ready, place cooled dough on a floured surface and try to press down with the palm of your hand.  If the dough starts to break wait, allow it to sit and warm up a little, 15 minutes should do. Roll out dough in a large circle, about 10 inches wide. Roll dough up onto your rolling pin and lay it out over a parchment lined baking sheet.

Free Form Apple Tart

2 lbs apples, peeled, cored and sliced, suggestion: use half Granny Smith and half Gala

1 Tbl lemon juice

4 Tbl unsalted butter

¼ cup sugar

½ tsp cinnamon or apple pie spice

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp cornstarch

1 recipe pie dough from above

After preparing the apples, toss them with the lemon juice and sauté apple slices in the butter over medium high heat, just do not burn the butter. Stir and cook for 8 minutes. While the apples are cooking mix together the sugar, salt and cornstarch. Add the sugar mixture to the apples for the last 2 minutes. Set aside to cool enough to handle. Preheat oven to 375.

When you have your pie dough on the baking sheet, place the apples in the center and spread out leaving 2 to 2½ inches of margin all around. Fold up the edges and crimp so they are slightly over the top of the apples. When done it should resemble a large bowl of apples.

Bake until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

Look for Chef Darrel’s blog on the website of our sister paper, Daily-Chronicle.com. Anyone with questions or comments for Chef Darrel is welcome to call him at 630-235-0672.It’s as American as apple pie. That’s the old saying, and we Americans feel apple pie belongs to us. Even though apples have quite an international history, apple pie couldn’t be more beloved than here in the United States.

Many of you are customers at some of the apple orchards in our area. Fresh-picked bags of apples await us in a dozen varieties, great for a snack, for roasting or for pies or tarts. Today’s recipe is a free form apple tart. When I was in culinary school one of my instructors told us there are two differences between pies and tarts: tarts are smaller and tarts cost more.

Now I know none of you are looking to sell apple tarts, but baking something a little fancier might bring a smile to the faces of your family. You might consider par baking some apples and keeping them portioned in your freezer. Just preheat your oven to 400. Peel, core and slice a bag of apples, toss them with a little sugar and divide between two 9-by-13 baking pans.

Bake them for a total of 10 minutes, removing them after 5 minutes and giving a quick toss. Cool and portion into freezer bags. Refrigerate overnight and then into the freezer with them. When thawed, these are good for pies, tarts, cakes or just about anything that calls for apples.

If you use these par baked apples for today’s recipe you may skip the sautéing of the raw apples.

First the pie dough. Yes, I want you to make your own, follow my recipe and everyone will be happy. But, if you must use store-bought frozen pie dough, handle it following the directions on the package.

Pie Crust

1¼ cups all purpose flour

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into quarter-inch slices

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup ice cold water, or more

Place flour, butter and salt in food processor and pulse until a rough texture is achieved, (butter will be tiny pieces). Add the water and pulse until dough is just sticky, turn out onto a floured surface. (All of this can be done by hand, it just takes a little longer.) Work dough with your hand 2 or 3 times only, then compress into a ball and flatten until about ¾ of an inch thick.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

When ready, place cooled dough on a floured surface and try to press down with the palm of your hand.  If the dough starts to break wait, allow it to sit and warm up a little, 15 minutes should do. Roll out dough in a large circle, about 10 inches wide. Roll dough up onto your rolling pin and lay it out over a parchment lined baking sheet.

Free Form Apple Tart

2 lbs apples, peeled, cored and sliced, suggestion: use half Granny Smith and half Gala

1 Tbl lemon juice

4 Tbl unsalted butter

¼ cup sugar

½ tsp cinnamon or apple pie spice

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp cornstarch

1 recipe pie dough from above

After preparing the apples, toss them with the lemon juice and sauté apple slices in the butter over medium high heat, just do not burn the butter. Stir and cook for 8 minutes. While the apples are cooking mix together the sugar, salt and cornstarch. Add the sugar mixture to the apples for the last 2 minutes. Set aside to cool enough to handle. Preheat oven to 375.

When you have your pie dough on the baking sheet, place the apples in the center and spread out leaving 2 to 2½ inches of margin all around. Fold up the edges and crimp so they are slightly over the top of the apples. When done it should resemble a large bowl of apples.

Bake until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

Look for Chef Darrel’s blog on the website of our sister paper, Daily-Chronicle.com. Anyone with questions or comments for Chef Darrel is welcome to call him at 630-235-0672.

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