Sunday, September 14, 2014

Simple Apple Tart with a Hazelnut Crust

It's feeling more and more like fall. The temperatures are dropping, the air is feeling a little more crisp and the leaves are just beginning to change. The perfect time for a simple apple tart. I had more than fall as reason to bake this because it was my bf's birthday recently. To celebrate I not only made him dessert but a dinner as well, of slowly braised lamb shanks and creamy mashed potatoes. Of course we gobbled dinner up pretty quick and I didn't want to make him wait while I took pictures and his dinner got cold. It was truly delicious though and something I'd definitely like make again. Next time though... there will be pictures! 

For dessert I wanted to keep it simple. I'd received some beautiful Ontario apples in my Mama Earth basket this week and, given the change in weather, I thought an apple tart would be perfect. I think with something as classic as an apple pie or tart, keeping it simple is the way to go. You really want to highlight those deliciously sweet apples and flaky pastry. However I've been making a lot of pastry lately so I wanted to switch it up a bit by adding in some ground hazelnuts. Still keeping it simple with the same classic flavours, this slight variation was a nice nutty touch. It worked out pretty well, the crust was still flakey and buttery with just a hint of toasty hazelnuts. I also found it kept the sweetness from the apples and brown sugar in balance. 

I think the next time I make this I will try pan frying the apples before throwing it all in the oven. Although it still tasted great,  I didn't get that caramel sauciness I was hoping for. Pan frying works wonders for an easy caramel sauce. 
I also need to invest in a pastry brush. I mean really... how do I not have one of these yet?! These photos are missing that shimmery gleam that I light brushing of butter would add I think. 

Simple Apple Tart with Hazelnut Crust
2 cups flour
1 cup ground hazelnuts
1 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 shortening, chilled and cubed
6-9 tbsp ice water

5 small apples, halved and sliced thinly
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp nutmeg
1/4 brown sugar
a few knobs butter

For the crust you'll want to make sure that all of your ingredients are as cold as possible while still being workable. Some people even throw their flour in the fridge for a bit when working with pastry. Start off by measuring out your flour and hazelnuts into a large mixing bowl. Add in your cold butter and shortening and combine with the dry ingredients. You want to rub the fats into the flour, breaking the cubes up into smaller pea sized pieces. Once this is achieved I'd recommend putting your dough in the fridge for at least 10 minutes for the fats to firm up again. You can throw it in the freezer too if you're short on time. I wouldn't leave it for more than 5 minutes as you don't want it to freeze on you.

Once your dough is cooled you can proceed by adding in your ice water, one tablespoon at a time. Bringing everything together with your hands. You want to add just enough water that your dough comes together to form a ball but not so much that it gets sticky. It takes a bit of practice to find the right texture but even if it does get a little sticky you can always add a little but of extra flour when rolling it out. Throw the dough back in the fridge.

Cut up your apples and toss them in a bowl with the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Let them sit while you preheat the oven to 425 F and roll out your dough.

After letting your dough chill for about 10-20 minutes again, lightly flour the surface you intent to roll it out on, as well as your rolling pin and hands. Gently work from the middle out, rolling out the dough into a circular form. You want it to be bigger than the pie pan you're working with so you have enough room for the crust to go up the edges. When you're done rolling the dough out lay it over your rolling pin and transfer it to the pie pan. Press the dough into all the edges and cut off any remaining bits.

You can chill your dough again here if it's gotten a bit warm again. Once your dough is ready fill it with your apples and a few dots of butter on top.

Place your uncooked pie in the oven for about 20 -30 minutes. Until the apples are soft and browned.

Let cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

As always, enjoy!

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