I love a good old-fashioned apple pie but I rarely ever bake one.

It always seems like a lot of work to me; no doubt worth it in the end, but I never take out the time for it. If you love apple pie too, but are intimidated by the task of baking one from scratch, then this free-form apple tart is for you.

A free-form fruit tart (also known as a galette or crostata) is a no-fuss, no-frills affair. Roll out your pastry, pile fruit in the center, fold over the edges and bake. You don’t need a pie plate or tart tin to bake it in. It’s easier to eat too, pizza-style, if you so please.

I don’t worry about getting my pastry perfectly round. I don’t meticulously arrange the apples in neat concentric circles. I don’t bother much with how it looks. I do want it to taste good though.

Apples and cinnamon are a classic combination, but adding a hint of vanilla, clove and ginger makes this filling even better. You can’t go wrong with a warm spicy apple filling encased in homemade buttery pastry.

This tart can be made with many other fruits, but as summer ends the variety of fruit available is somewhat limited. Apples are always available this time of year though. As we head into the winter months, opt for some comfort food and give this simple apple tart a try.

Free-form Apple Tart

For the pastry:

4oz (115g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1¼ cups flour

2 tablespoons caster sugar

Pinch of salt

2 to 4 tablespoons ice-cold water

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

500-600g apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (you should have approx. 3 cups of sliced apples)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste)

¼ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)

¼ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

Pinch of salt.

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 400oF (200oC). For the filling, add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well.

2) To make the pastry, add flour, caster sugar, salt and butter to a food processor. Pulse two or three times, for three seconds at a time, until the mixture is crumbly and the pieces of butter are no larger than a pea.

3) Add this mixture to a mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water. Press the mixture together to form a ball. As the heat from your hands melts the butter, the pastry dough will come together. If not, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together.

4) Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.

5) Remove the pastry from the fridge and unwrap. Flatten the dough slightly and place between two sheets of wax paper.

6) Roll the dough out, between the two sheets of wax paper, to about 3mm (1/8 inch) thickness.

7) Carefully transfer the pastry and wax paper to a baking tray and remove the top sheet of wax paper. Pile the fruit-filling mixture in the centre of the rolled-out pastry dough.

8) Fold over the edges of the pastry, brush with egg and sprinkle some sugar.

9) Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.


Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, October 16th, 2016

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