Monthly Archives: December 2012

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A rainy morning apple tart

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It’s terribly dark and rainy outside, good fodder for a morning of All Songs Considered and baking something deliciously sweet.

This morning, I turned to the simplest apple tart on Smitten Kitchen. From my narrow perspective on the internet, Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen is my gold standard for what food blogging is. Not only are her photos beautiful, but more significantly, her recipes are sturdy for a novice baker (like myself). Baking is an exercise in precision, so when I find a recipe that allows me to fudge tablespoons or substitute ingredients without consequences of the bland flavor or concerning texture varieties, I’m hooked. And on several occasions, Smitten Kitchen’s recipes have successfully allowed such freedom with tasty results. (Though I would never repeat lemon bars with whole wheat flour, not that it tasted bad at all, it just throws the whole vision of luscious lemon curd on a pale pastry out the window.)

I closely followed Smitten Kitchen’s apple tart recipe today, though I decided to not refrigerate my dough as this was my pending breakfast. It was absolutely delicious and light: I ate a quarter of the tart for breakfast!

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Simplest apple tart, from Smitten Kitchen

For the pate brisee
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut up
3 1/2 tbsp cold water

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. When well combined, add in butter and mix until butter chunks are pea-sized. Slowly add water until the dough can hold itself in a ball. At this point, you should shape the dough into a thick disc and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, until cool. Afterward, roll out dough until very thin — about 1/8 inches thick, according to Smitten Kitchen. Lay sheet of dough out in your dish of choice (I went with my favorite porcelain tart dish, but you could probably use a conventional 9-inch pie dish or on a baking sheet and carefully seal the filling in your galette). Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and set pate brisee aside.

For the filling
2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp sugar

Peel, core and thinly-cut apples. Save these scraps for a glaze. Keep slices close together and place and fan out slices in the pate brisee. My strategy here was to first populate the perimeter of the tart and then move inside. I also cut up some oddly shaped slices to fill in gaps of previously misshaped slices. Fold over extra dough hanging off the outside of the dish towards the inside of the tart. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle sugar on top. Bake tart for 45-50 minutes, making sure to turn the tart around in the oven every 15 minutes or so. The tart will be done when the crust has darkened to a golden brown and apples have softened. When done, take out to cool for 15 minutes.

For the apple glaze
1/2 cup sugar
Remaining apple peels and cores

In a pot, combine sugar, remaining apple peels and cores and enough water to barely cover apple scraps. Simmer for 25 minutes and check back regularly to make sure the liquid has just turned into a syrup and is not burning. Either strain apple pieces out of syrup or carefully spoon just syrup out of the pot. After the tart has cooled for at least 15 minutes, brush apple glaze on tart.

Ending fall on a few pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

We’re seeing an atypically warm weekend for December, here in Chicago. According to my weather widget, the current temperature is 63 degrees Fahrenheit, and trust me when I say that I thought I wouldn’t experience any day this warm until next March at the earliest. During a walk with a friend today, I set my peacoat aside in favor of a lighter vest to keep myself warm outside and even that felt a bit too heavy! So in honor of the prototypically autumnal — and certainly not wintry — weather today, I squeezed the very last of fall out of my kitchen and baked something pumpkin.

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Pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, very slightly adapted from a cup of mascarpone

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 can of pumpkin (15 oz.)
1 3/4 rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, white sugar, brown sugar and salt. Once well-mixed, add butter, and once that is well-mixed, add the pumpkin and egg. Fold in oats and chocolate chips. Press plastic wrap such that it tightly covers the dough and cool mixture in refrigerator for an hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon dough onto baking sheet and make sure to leave at least an inch and half between cookies. Bake for 15-16 minutes. Recipe produces approximately 32 cookies.

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Sweet, light and fluffy. A bit like my vest. I do have to note that these do not need to be covered to stay good. They are extremely moist, on account of all of the pumpkin, and make for a great breakfast cookie!