Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving recipe

I'm actually not celebrating Thanksgiving this year... at least, not in the traditional sense with family. Instead, I'll be working. But the nice thing about this job is that when I'm not hiking or doing less interesting things I have lots and lots of time to bake. This is one of my favorites; it's a really flexible recipe with lots of room for creativity in ingredients and not being exact with amounts (which is how I like to bake). And, it looks incredible but is oh so forgiving in terms of making a crust (you don't even have to make one!) and laying out the fruit. Although I'm sure most of you have already finished your baking ahead of time, if you're last-minute like me, this is what you should make! It's rich, buttery, and really lets the flavors of the fruit shine. When I make it with just apples, it's like a pared-down essence of apple pie that, in my eyes, is even better than apple pie. Yes. I said it. Enjoy!

 Cranberry Apple Pear Rustic Tart with Cranberry Glaze 
Adapted from Orangette

Healthy alternate version coming soon... but I could not resist sharing my favorite comfort food!


4 Tbsp. ice water, plus more as needed
3⁄4 tsp. apple cider vinegar (or a little more)
1 1⁄2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I sometimes make half of this whole wheat pastry flour)
1 Tbsp. sugar
3⁄4 tsp. salt
9 Tbsp. (4 1⁄2 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cubed

2 apples (Cortland or any baking apple)
2 pears (I used Bosc)
several handfuls of cranberries from a bag's worth
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup water (if you have any cider sitting around I like to make this at least 50& cider instead of water)
also small amount of orange zest (not at all necessary, but nice - I literally swiped at an orange 3 times with a grater... you can omit if you like)

Combine 4 Tbsp. ice water and the cider vinegar.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to blend. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal; mine typically is very fine and dry. Add the water-vinegar mixture, processing just until moist clumps form. If you pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it in your fist, it should hold together. If the dough seems dry, add more ice water by the teaspoon, pulsing to incorporate. Don't go overboard!

Turn the dough out onto a wooden board or clean countertop and shape it into a ball... but don't overwork the dough. Throw in a bowl, cover and refrigerate, ideally for more than 2 hours, but I find a little less time is still ok. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.) Before rolling it out, allow the dough to soften slightly at room temperature... unless you're impatient like me.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle - dough should be about an 2/8ths of an inch thick. Aim for a rectangle or oval shape when rolling. Transfer the dough to a rimmed baking sheet. I like to place parchment paper on the sheet before transferring. At this point, if you want a crust, fold over the outside edge of the dough a bit all around to make a rim.

Peel the apples and cut them into quarters, then into thin – roughly 1/8th inch-thick slices. Treat the pears the same way only do not peel them. Arrange the apple and pear slices over the pastry in rows, overlapping them like cards in solitaire. if you like, arrange some cranberries on the tart at this point.  Sprinkle sugar generously over the fruit.

Bake the tart until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the apples are beginning to color, about 35 to 45 minutes. Judge more by the color of the crust rather than the fruit in terms of when it's done.

While it's baking: place water/cider mixture in small pot and add 1 cup sugar and orange zest, as well as a handful or two of cranberries. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Simmer until the mixture has reduced to a thick syrup (this is the one fussy part of the recipe that I've added - while simmering, watch the cranberries and strain them out BEFORE they all explode - of course the cranberry and orange zest both are optional for the glaze). Continue simmering until there is noticeably less liquid and it is thick. Set the syrup aside (reserving the solids as well).

Cool on the pan on a rack.

Slide the tart from the pan onto a cutting board. Brush with the warm glaze. Add the reserved berries from the reduction if you like. Wait a while for the glaze to set a little... if you can!

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

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