February 5, 2015
A friend of mine commented on facebook that her 5-year-old daughter came home from school on Groundhog Day and announced that the rascally little rodent (my words, not hers) saw his shadow and "that means sixteen more weeks of winter." Well, it already feels like sixteen years.
Another gray day today, a little more snow. The only cheerful thought I could conjure this morning was that under the circumstances I deserve to eat as many doughnuts as I please. But that would mean cleaning off my car, so I'm opting to fill the house with comforting smells instead.
This traditional Irish apple tart differs from it's All-American cousin in a few ways. Its crust is sweeter, with a healthy dose of butter, akin to shortbread dough, and the spices are added with a light hand. Irish tarts are generally only about 1-inch high, and sometimes even made on an ovenproof dinner plate. The recipe here takes into account the standard American 2-inch-deep pie pan.
A buttery crust that melts in your mouth gives the pie (confusingly called a tart) good keeping qualities.
If you're in the northern part of the country, don't let winter get you down. Fight back with pie!
Irish Apple Tart
Makes 1 10-inch tart (or pie, or whatever you want to call it, just make it.)
3 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1. In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, salt, and butter pieces until mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the eggs and pulse until the dough comes together in large clumps.
2. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Shape into 2 round, flat disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for the top of the pie
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
4 cooking apples (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Milk, for brushing the crust
1. Have on hand a 10-inch pie pan and a baking sheet. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and leave for a few minutes to soften slightly.
2. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the apple slices, and toss to coat.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the larger pastry disk into a 13-inch circle. Use a rolling pin to lift it, and fit it into the pie pan. With a pastry brush, brush the rim with water.
4. Fill the pan with the apples, arranging them so they lie flat and come to the top of the pan.
5. Roll the second disk of dough into an 11-inch circle and place it on top of the pie. Press the edges together to seal. With a sharp knife, trim the excess.
6. Press a fork all around the edge to seal, or crimp with the rounded edge of a table knife pressed against your index finger. With a paring knife, cut several vent holes in the top of the pie.
7. Roll out the scraps and cut out leaf shapes, if you like. Brush the top of the pie with milk. Arrange the leaf shapes on top of the pie, brush them with milk, and dust the pie with sugar.
8. Set the pie pan on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes longer, or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and let settle for at least 20 minutes before serving.