Apple Crumble Tart Takes on a New Shape

Posted on 25 November 2015

Pi r squared. Pie r round. Tart r rectangular.

The rectangular tart is the more rustic, country-mouse version of its classic round cousin. It looks stylish without pristine glazes or radiating starbursts of fruit. A simple trimming of nuts or berries in neat rows looks just right. Tatte’s, the fastest growing bakery and café in Boston, makes most of its tarts rectangular, and sells them for a tidy sum through Williams-Sonoma.

I’ve made my own version of Tatte’s rectangular nut tart, heaping it high with whole toasted pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and cashews, and drenching it in caramel. It took me a while to get the hang of making caramel, though. After endangering our guests’ teeth with a filling resembling nut brittle, I found that the secret to soft caramel is the same as for chocolate ganache: an insane amount of cream.

This apple crumble tart recipephany makes a warmly spiced alternative to that rich caramel tart, a delicious balancing act of tangy and sweet, soft and crunchy. Sautéing the apples and spices before baking concentrates flavors, thickens the filling, and caramelizes the sugars.

You can get a 13 ¾” x 4 ½” x 1” pan for yourself or, as I did, you can simply drop hints at holiday time. The trick is having the right size cutting board or serving platter. I got lucky and found one dirt cheap at Pier 1. I also make disposable serving boards to take to parties by cutting matte board or foam core scraps to 15″ x 6″ and covering them in parchment paper using a glue stick (tape won’t stick).

Hope to see you soon at a holiday party. I’ll be the one carrying the apple crumble tart.

Apple Crumble Tart

A. Prepare crumble topping

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  1. Combine dry ingredients, molasses and spices.
  2. Cut in the butter with fingers to make a course crumble. Set aside.

B. Make pastry

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice (more or less)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix flour and salt, cut in shortening until it looks like coarse meal. Stir in enough orange juice with a fork to make a ball of dough.
  3. Roll the pie crust into a rectangle to fit the pan, then reinforce the sides with extra pastry. (You will have some leftover.) Prick all over with a fork to keep from puffing during baking.
  4. Bake for about 6 minutes. Set aside.

C. Make filling

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large Cortland or other baking apples
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Toss in a bowl with lemon juice and zest.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, molasses, spices and flour.
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Add the apples, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Top with sugar, molasses, flour, cinnamon nutmeg, salt and mace.
  4. Cook over medium-low heat until the apples are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.

D. Assemble and bake

  1. Spread the slightly cooled apple filling over the crust. Sprinkle topping over the apples and lightly pat down. Place the pan onto aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, just in case it bubbles over.
  2. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the crust gets golden and the apples bubble (they won’t bubble too much because of the topping).
  3. Cool until you can release the tart easily from the pan. Use a thin sharp knife to loosen the sides. If you want, you can leave the bottom on.

Place on a cutting board or rectangular platter. Slice and serve. Optional: Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and store for two days at room temperature or refrigerate.

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