I started back at freelance work in the beginning of September. It’s a pretty sweet arrangement working at home, although now it looks a little different with the little person who needs one-on-on attention every 1.5 hours or so. While there are some days I email in projects and switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer and pull out something for us to warm up for lunch, seamlessly, like, la dee da, there are other days that I think, man, this is tough. Kind of like Rocco’s birth, our new, ever-evolving routines are another way parenthood is reminding me I don’t have it all together and I don’t call the shots. They’re another way God is showing me, no matter how I’d like to pretend otherwise, I need help. He is kind to help me lean harder on Him. He is kind to let me do it alongside Tim.
Right alongside working more and getting out more, Tim and I are cooking more together again. This tart, we’ve had three times. The first time was when we were up in Chicago a few weeks ago and my mom made it. Hers was executed beautifully, with perfectly arranged apples and a cookie-like sweet tart crust. The next two times were here at home. While I need to work on my middle rosette game, the flavor here is A+. If I never eat another apple dessert again, it will be okay because, I’m telling you, I want this one only ever over and over again.
My Favorite Apple Dessert This Year (or, French Apple Tart)
What originally won me over to this tart is the crust. It’s not like a flaky pie crust. It’s like a cookie crust. Sweet and firm like a shortbread yet in a thin, rolled-out layer like a crust. It takes a little elbow grease to work it together, or at least it did for me, feel free to say yours was different because everything changes pie crust from the weather to your hands, but it’s worth it worth it worth it.
For the tart dough:
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose einkorn (or other) flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoons
For the filling:
4-5 apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2” pieces
1 teaspoon lemon (or lime) juice
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon water
For the top:
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the drizzle:
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
Start by preparing the tart crust:
In a small bowl, stir together egg yolk, water and vanilla. In a large bowl, stir together flour, coconut sugar and salt. Cut in the butter until all the butter pieces are no larger than small peas throughout. Next add the egg mixture, stirring with a fork until it’s all combined. The original recipe said to do this until the dough pulls together; in my cold kitchen that would have been a long time. So I used my clean hands to massage the dough, letting my body heat warm the butter as I worked, until I could create a solid lump of dough.
Move the dough to a floured work surface and flatten it into a disk with your hands. Use a floured rolling pin and floured hands to make this dough about the size of your tart pan (my mom used an 8” tart pan; I used a 10” tart pan), and move it onto the pan. I like to roll it onto a rolling pin and then unroll it off into the pan. Use your fingers to press the dough into the pan and decorate the sides as you like. Move this to the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Then work on the filling:
Preheat oven to 425F. Fill a large saucepan with all the filling ingredients, cover it and cook the mixture over low heat for about 20 minutes, until all the apples are soft enough to easily break apart with a wooden spoon. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, peel, core and thinly slice the 2-3 apples for the topping.
Pour the cooled apple mixture into your prepared and chilled tart crust, and begin layering the sliced apples all over the top, starting at the edges and working your way into the center. My mom’s was as pretty as a picture; mine still works. Feel free to overlayer because the fruit will shrink when it bakes.
Dot the top of the tart with butter and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350F for 50-60 minutes more. Tart is done when the apples are soft and browned and the crust is golden. Remove tart from oven and let cool slightly.
The final step is to brush maple syrup all over the top of the tart to create a nice, thin coating. also, my mom’s notes say, “Serve warm or cold—great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!”
*It is worth pointing out, in a post where I talk about learning to balance work and life, that this blog is yet another thing we’re learning how to keep up with because we like it here a lot. Posts have never been such a joint effort as they are now, while one of us cuddles Rocco and the other stirs a pot. Ever learning, ever discovering, even in this.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.