Rustic Apple Tartlets

This recipe for apple tartlets is an adaption from a two different sources, Baking in America by Greg Patent and Cooks Illustrated Fall 2007. The cake flour in the pastry makes it incredibly tender. I always use organic unsalted butter in my pastries. I like Penzey’s Apple Pie Spice but plain cinnamon is very good as well. These tartlets can be cut into wedges and served in small portions, very good for a fall picnic lunch.

Flaky tart pastry

Makes enough for one 9-10″ tart shell, 13″ free form tart or 4-6 smaller individual tarts.

1 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2-3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

1. Combine the flours, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the pieces of butter and cut it into the flour until the mixture is like coarse meal. Sprinkle in the water about 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing together until the dough forms a ball.

2. Flatten the dough into a disc then transfer it to a sheet of wax paper. Cut the disc into either four or six portions, depending on the size of tartlet you would like.

3. Working with one piece of dough at a time, round and flatten it into a small disc. Place the individual disks between squares of wax paper and roll out into circles. Roll the dough from the center out lifting and realigning as you go. The dough should be fairly thin. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes before adding the apple filling.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Apple Filling

6 medium apples, good for baking, I used a local empire
2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice, I used Penzey’s
1 egg white, beaten with a little water, to brush on dough before baking
small bits of butter for top of tartlets

1. Peel, cut and core the apples into 1/4′ slices and toss together with sugar, lemon juice, zest and spice.

2. Remove the dough from the fridge and one at a time remove the top layer of wax paper from the dough and mound up the apples in the center of the tartlet, leaving a one inch border around the edge. Carefully fold the border up over apple filling, pleating it and pressing it in to fit snugly around apples. This is the tricky part, a small disclaimer, in order to take the tartlet from the wax paper and transfer it onto the parchment after you’ve filled it with apples and basically created your tartlet you have to hold the tart with the wax paper right side up in your left hand and carefully place your right hand over the top and flip it upside down in your right hand and peel the wax paper off the back then place it over right side up on the parchment lined baking sheet. This is an operation that will make you feel like you are the master of your pastry, not a bad thing and a great confidence builder. Brush the dough with the beaten egg white, sprinkle the apples with the extra sugar and add a few small bits of butter to the top of the tart.

Bake the tartlets until golden brown about 35 minutes. Cool the tarlets on the baking sheets for at least 10 minutes.

I like to make these earlier in the day and then reheat them for a few minutes in the oven before serving with vanilla ice cream.

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