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Friday, March 13, 2009

no recipe apple tart

Tarte aux pommes

Can you bake without a recipe?  Most of you are probably shaking your head no...no, no, no, no.  You've all been scared off by that culinary truism that refers to cooking as an art and baking as a science.  I don't think it's true at all.  And I think most good home cooks who are afraid of baking are missing out a whole lot.  The same is true with bakers who religiously follow recipes.  If baking is rigidly following a recipe, you're missing out on the improvisation, the play that makes cooking so much fun.

Of course, it's true that you need to learn a few basic recipes.  Learn how to do a pie/tart crust, for example.  Any good food writer/blogger worth their salt can teach you one. Yes, I even have one in my book (which of course you must wait for.)  But once you have that, you can bake just about any fruit tart or fruit pies that your heart desires and you mind imagines.

Before baking

Just like the simple tart you see here.  I made it without any recipe at all.  Really.  My dough recipe is so easy I remember it by heart.  So I made mine without having to look it up.  (Again, you can learn how to do it by going here, here, and here.)   Or you can buy an all-butter pie crust from any good supermarket if you didn't want to bother, even Trader Joe's carry one.  Roll it out, thin, to about 9-10inch diameter.  Do it on a sheet of parchment to make it easier to move later.

Then take any fruit you like -apples are in season now so it's apples for me.  I had a few Pippins and one or two Pink Ladies I got at the market this week.  So I peeled them (about 3-4 small ones), slice them thin, and arrange them in a pretty layer on my bare round of dough, leaving about an inch around the outside edge to fold.  Sprinkled some sugar on top so they would melt and turn a little shiny on the surface.  Folded the dough inwards and crimped the edges a bit to keep them there.  If you want, you can crack an egg, beat it a bit, and brush the eggwash all over the outside edge of the tart so it turns nice and golden in the oven.  Some sugar to add a bit of crunch would be nice too.  And that's about it.  The tart went into 400F (about 200C) preheated oven until golden brown, or until it looked and smelled done, about 30 minutes did the trick.

And, voila, a lovely, simple apple tart as a dessert to end a lovely homecooked meal.  You could do this with stone fruits when they come into season, or poached pears while the weather is still cold.  If you're not into having things all lined up, you could even just toss a jumble of apple or pear slices, throwing in a few dried fruits all chopped up for good measure.  Who cares how pretty or messy they look, just do what feels good to you.  If you tart turned out really ugly, you could break it up into big chunks, toss them together a bit and called them deconstructed fruit crumble.  Top it up with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and no one ever has to know.  Ha.


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