This French-style tart is one of my go-to pies. I’ve made it with sliced apples and sliced pears. I’ve glazed it with apricot preserves and orange marmalade. I’ve painted the bottom crust with chocolate or lined it with minced fresh cranberries. Play with it as you will. Do pre-bake the pie crust; I think it has more flavor. For the dough, I use a recipe from “A Year of Pies” by Ashley English, adapted for a food processor. The pie filling combines elements from Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook” and Benjamin Darling’s “Easy as Pie.”
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, frozen
11/4 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large Granny Smith apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup apricot preserves
2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
For the crust, cut butter into cubes. Place butter and flour in the chilled work bowl of a food processor with a chilled metal blade. Pulse to cut the butter into the flour; the mixture should look like coarse meal. Pulse in the ice water. Place the loose, crumbly dough on a cutting board or counter. Using the heel of your palm, work the flour-butter mixture together, pushing it into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly flour work surface and rolling pin.
Begin rolling the dough, slowly rotating it every couple of rolls to help it spread out evenly. When desired size and thickness is reached, fold the dough loosely into fourths; position it in a 9-inch tart or pie pan. Unfold the dough and press gently into pan. Trim off excess dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch margin. Fold over or push the extra dough down to build the sides of the tart crust.
Prick the dough with the tines of a fork; line the crust with aluminum foil topped with pie weights or dried beans or even a smaller pie pan. Bake until the crust firms and colors lightly, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil; allow crust to cool.
Meanwhile, for the filling, peel, core and slice the apples. Spritz with lemon juice to prevent browning.
Mix apricot preserves, cinnamon and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan. Heat to a boil over medium high heat; boil until a light syrup is formed. Remove pan from heat; let cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Paint inside of crust with some of the apricot glaze. Arrange apple slices over the glaze in concentric rings. Bake until the apples are just tender, 50 minutes.
Remove tart from oven; paint top with a thin layer of apricot glaze. (Reheat the glaze if needed to make it more spreadable.) Work gently so as not to disturb the pattern of apple slices. Let the pie cool. Top with homemade whipped cream, if you like. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 271 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 30 mg cholesterol, 41 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 75 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.