My Thanksgiving Contribution

My Thanksgiving was wonderful. And I have so much to tell you. I actually cooked more this weekend than I have in a long time and I want to share all my newfound recipes with you. But I’ll start with Thanksgiving and work my way through the weekend. (But just as a teaser, get ready for the greatest vegetable soup ever and a baked chicken with rosemary that’s impossible to beat!)

But back to Thanksgiving. As this was technically my first Thanksgiving “on my own” (and by on my own I mean not living with my parents and/or being supported by them) I decided I could contribute more to the meal than simply setting the table. And when I found this Simplest Apple Tart from the Chez Panisse cookbook on Smitten Kitchen, I thought it would be an excellent addition to our dessert spread.

In an effort to plan ahead, I made the dough on Wednesday night and put in the fridge until the next morning. I decided to go galette-style partially because I thought it would be easier, but mostly because I didn’t have a tart pan and apparently Bed, Bath and Beyond only carries 11-inch tart pans! Don’t get me started on that wild goose chase!

The dough was really quite simple to put together and I was feeling good about the assembly the next day. That is until I started rolling it out. I will admit that at one point I sat down on the kitchen floor and literally threw my hands up in the air, which of course caused the flour all over my hands to gently scatter and land on me. The dough was rolling out, but even with ample flour, I couldn’t get it off the counter without it all breaking and cracking. And I was frustrated.

“Mom, I’m failing,” I said when I called for help after two botched attempts. “Try putting down Saran Wrap and rolling it out on that. Then you can pick the whole thing up and put it on the parchment paper,” said mom.

Moms are genius. So are boyfriends who take the rolling pin out of your hands and roll out the dough because you’re too frustrated with yourself and won’t get up off the kitchen floor.

Once we got the dough on the pan, it was smooth sailing. Just a pretty arrangement of sliced apples and some sprinkled sugar and that baby was in the oven. Soon the apartment filled with the sweet aroma of apples baking and we could see the sugar bubbling on the pan as it escaped through the crust’s crevices. I poured the glaze on while it was hot and then let the whole thing cool, which I think added an extra sweetness to the apples.

If I were to make it again – and yes, I think I would… – I would make sure the dough was very cold when rolling it out to avoid a warm, sticky mess. I’d also use a tart pan because I think it would just look prettier and would keep the yummy apple juices in. But the flavor was crisp and sweet and a lighter dessert choice on our Thanksgiving table.

R said the tart looked like a child made it. My mom said it looked rustic. But I gotta tell you, there wasn’t one piece left, so I don’t really care what it looked like!

Alice Waters’ Apple Tart

As seen at Smitten Kitchen.

1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 Tbs. chilled water

2 lb. apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
5 Tbs. sugar

1/2 C. sugar


To make dough, mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 Tbs. of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.

Dribble in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.

Place dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400°F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)

Overlap apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 Tbs. sugar over dough edge and the other 3 Tbs. over apples.

Bake in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.

To make glaze, put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.

Remove tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.

Brush glaze over tart, slice, and serve.

  • Hillary

    It looks like that came out so well Max! :) Glad the fam enjoyed it!

  • melissa

    Moms are genius.


    So are boyfriends who take the rolling pin out of your hands and roll out the dough because you’re too frustrated with yourself and won’t get up off the kitchen floor.

    and double yes (insert “husband” for “boyfriend”)

    I get really overwhelmed trying to bake anything, it’s not a strong suit of mine (at least not yet!). I admire your fortitude – and it looks very, very tasty.

  • Maxine

    Hillary – Thanks! :)

    Melissa – I’m glad you can sympathize! I always want to be a great baker and then manage to mess up something crucial (i.e. forget the baking soda…). I’ll keep trying though!

  • Addie

    The main reason I love to bake is that everyone loves desserts. But when you make liver and onions, it is not always popular.
    When the kids were small, they didn’t care if it was a package deal or from scratch. Although there weren’t too many offerings from a packed mix. Today they use the packaged mixes yet expect me to do all the ‘from scratch’ baking. In your dreams kids. They get a little of both. I am now a mood baker. If I am in the mood you will get scratch baking. Today it will be lemon poppy seed muffins with lemon syrup, from scratch. I am in the mood.

  • Addie

    Maxine, like you my dough always cracked and crumbled. I finally decided to ignore what the recipe said and make it a little wet. Just past wet enough to hold together when you squeeze it. Problem solved. I can even roll it up on the pin and transfer it to the pan or pie plate. I then set it aside and let it dry out with an egg wash on top to keep it from getting mushy. Or you could save your sanity and buy the premade boxed or frozen pie crust. No flavor though. Just not the same as your own efforts.

  • Maxine

    Addie – thanks for the advice! I think part of my problem was that I kept flouring my counter top to prevent sticking and it really over-flourerd the dough, so it got very crumbly. I will definitely try your “wet” method next time. Thanks!

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