Autumn has started here in Australia. Even though we live up north and it’s pretty warm all year around (we’re upside down so think of Florida where Maine is), it’s getting dark early. Queensland, the state I live in, doesn’t have daylight savings time. Yes, that’s correct, it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. So here it is, barely the end of summer and it gets dark at 6pm. I hate it but that’s an argument for another today. Today we’re talking apples.
I love apple pies, apple tarts, apple crumbles — apple just about anything. My in-laws visited and we were having a relaxing weekend, not doing much of anything. My mother-in-law was reading her book and I’d just finished cleaning up the place a bit.
During a break in her book reading, she suggested that we make an Aussie Apple Tart. See what I said above about loving everything apple – I was IN. She decided that she would tell me how to make the tart and I’d do all the work. She IS the mother-in-law. Nuff said. She knows I’m a pretty good cook but she also knows most of the food I make comes from my roots in the US. She wants me to keep her recipes alive.
We started by making some apple sauce and while it was cooling, we (read that I) made the pastry. I suspect she thought her pastry was best but she allowed me to make my stand-by recipe. While that was chilling we peeled and sliced the apples. She did the heavy onlooking and the big advice giving. “If you slice the apples too thickly, they won’t cook all the way through before turning brown.” Check.. make slices thinner.
My mother-in-law is the cutest old lady you’ve ever met. She’s the size of a number 2 pencil and just about as tall but she’s never lost her perky, sexy personality. I love both “the olds” to bits. They live in Victoria in the southern part of Australia. We’d like them to move up here but they think it’s too hot where we are. It gets much hotter there in the summer (and dryer) and much much colder in the winter.
Anyway, about this tart. Aussie apple tarts are made by smoothing spiced apple sauce over the bottom of the tart quite thickly. Joan couldn’t believe I’d never made a tart by putting applesauce in the bottom. Over the sauce, you place the apples sliced very thinly in a lovely pattern on top of the apple sauce. Make sure you place the apples neatly because if you don’t, my mother-in-law will move them for you.
This is my standard pastry recipe that makes enough dough for two tarts. If you have a pastry recipe you like, it will work just fine for this tart. Once you have all the apples overlapped perfectly (mine weren’t) place it in the oven until the edges of the apples start to caramelize and the apples are soft.
While it’s baking, heat up the apricot preserves because when the tart comes out of the oven you’ll brush the top of the tart with the preserves. It will sweeten the apples and leave a beautiful glaze on the tart. Enjoy!
- 2½ cups (12½ oz. or 355 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbs sugar
- 6 oz (170 grams) of cold butter cut into small pieces
- ½ cup (104 grams) of shortening
- ¼ cup cold vodka
- ¼ cup very cold water
- 2 cups apple sauce (needs to be sweet and tastes really good with a bit of cinnamon)
- 2 apples sliced thinly
- 1 tbs demerara sugar
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- ½ cup apricot preserves heated
- In a food processor, combine 1½ cups of flour, salt and sugar and process in 2 one-second pulses.
- Add the butter and shortening and process until the dough starts to form uneven clumps. This takes about 15 seconds and will look like cottage cheese and there is no visible flour.
- Scrape the bowl and distribute the dough evenly around the blade.
- Add the remaining cup of flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed. Only 4 to 6 quick pulses.
- Dump the mixture into a bowl and sprinkle the vodka and water over the mixture.
- Important: Use a rubber spatula and fold and press until the dough sticks together.
- Divide the dough into two and form two flat disks. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30-45 minutes (or up to 2 days)
- Pre-heat oven to 400F or 200C.
- Roll out the dough and place in a tart pan with a removable bottom (you can use anything you want but this pan makes placing the tart on the plate really easy)
- Prick the bottom and place in refrigerator to chill.
- Peel and cut the apples in half and remove the core.
- Slice thinly and toss with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
- Retrieve the tart crust and smooth the applesauce over the bottom.
- Lay the apple slices in a nice pattern on top of the apple sauce.
- Sprinkle with demerara sugar and place in the oven. Reduce the heat to 375F or 190C and bake until golden brown. My oven took about 40 minutes.
- Brush the apples with the heated apricot preserves.