This tart could just as easily be eaten for breakfast as it could be for dessert after dinner. I see this as being both Belgian (seen in the yeasted crust) and from the Ardennes (seen in the addition of the apples). Whatever you want to call it, it is delicious. —thirschfeld
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Thirschfeld shares stories and recipes from his farm in Indiana.
WHAT: A rustic apple tart that only looks hard to make.
HOW: Put away the stand mixer and get out your wooden spoon -- you’ll mix up a yeasted crust and a gooey prune and apple filling the old-fashioned way. Don’t forget to dot the tart with butter and shower it with sugar for the last 20 minutes of baking.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Apple tarts can sometimes be flimsy, but not this one. It’s thick, cardamom-scented crust contains a fruity, custardy inside flavored with ground almonds and Armagnac. And as much as thirschfeld insists it will overflow, we found that a 9-inch tart pan solved the problem. —The Editors
6 to 8
For the yeasted crust:
dry active yeast
heaping 1/8 teaspoons
1 1/2 cups
whole-wheat pastry flour
unsalted butter, softened
For the filling:
(1/3 cup) sugar
(1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
large egg beaten
1 1/2 ounces
(1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) whole-wheat pastry flour
(1/2 cup) finely ground almonds
(1/4 cup) buttermilk
Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced into half moons
chopped prunes soaked in 1 tablespoon of Armagnac for 30 minutes
each cold butter cubed and sugar for dotting and dusting
In This Recipe
For the crust: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yeast into the milk and let it dissolve. Add the the rest of the crust ingredients and use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients until they come together and form a ball.
Kneed the dough until it is smooth. Place it back into the mixing bowl and cover the bowl with a warm damp towel. Set the dough aside for an hour to rise.
At the end of the hour, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it once or twice to deflate it. It shouldn't have risen a whole bunch, but it will definitely have bubbles. Dust it with flour and shake off the excess.
Dust the countertop lightly with flour if the dough seems sticky. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle so it is an 1/8-inch thick. Gently roll the dough around the pin for support and then unroll the dough into and 8-inch tart pan. [Editors' note: We used a 9-inch tart pan and found that the tart did not overflow, described later.]
Lift the edges of the dough up and gently fit it into the tart pan pushing the dough down into the corners for a snug fit. Run a paring knife along the rim of the tart pan to trim the dough even with the top of the pan. Set the crust aside.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Clean out the bowl used for the crust and dry it.
For the filling: Place the sugar and butter into the mixing bowl and cream them together using a wooden spoon. Add the egg, pastry flour, almonds, buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir with the spoon until smooth.
Place half the apple slices into the tart pan along with half of the prunes. Pour in the batter and smooth it with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the rest of the prunes over the top and then place the remaining apple slices attractively over the top. Place the tart on a sheet tray with sides. This tart will overflow -- It is meant to. It's what's going to give it part of its charm, but you will definitely want to put it on a sheet tray.
Bake the tart in the oven for 25 minutes. At the end of 25 minutes sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar over the tart and dot it with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is nicely browned and set. Remove the tart from the oven to cool. As it cools, run a paring knife around the outside edge to trim off the excess overflow.
The tart is best if it can rest for 3 to 4 hours before serving. The juices from the apple, the Armagnac, and the prunes will all leach out their wonderful flavor. Cut it into wedges and serve with or without whipped cream.