Way back at the end of my sophomore year of college (sheesh…1998), I met Robin. She walked into the office where I had my work-study job in these baggy skater jeans, complete with the iconic ’90s chain looped from a front belt loop down to a wallet in her back pocket, looking for a job. I distinctly remember sitting there at my Windows 95 computer, likely stuffing my thousandth envelope of the day for the next alumni mailing, with a major internal eyeroll happening. I immediately judged her, dismissing her as someone I couldn’t be friends with. Oh how silly we are when we’re young.
Despite my initial ridiculousness, we sat at neighboring desks in that little alumni office for the next few weeks and slowly became friends. I went home for the summer (she was local), went to Disney for the following semester, and our friendship grew strong via only letters and email. By the time I returned to school in winter 1999, Robin and I were inseparable.
We still worked in the alumni office together, planning our hours around our classes so we were there at the same time, bought each other coffee on our shoe-string college budgets every other Friday morning, and I began to become part of her family at home. After I graduated and moved home in 2000 (it was because of Robin’s encouragement to consider grad school that I moved back to CT in early 2002), she introduced what would be a yearly fall tradition for us over the course of a few years: the apple orchard store.
Robin and I really only went to the orchard store for the deep dish apple pie and the cider doughnut holes (and maybe a bag of apples as well) and it was the smell of this maple glazed rustic apple tart baking last Thursday morning that really brought back some distinct memories. Within 20 minutes of popping this tart in the oven, my entire house smelled exactly like that orchard store.
Those memories flooded back to me and reinforced the reason why I named this blog Smells Like Home. It’s that initial hit of something baking or bubbling away on the stove; the smell of homey and comforting food that pulls you back to a time and place, evoking memories you hadn’t touched in ages, making you smile, laugh, cry.
It’s the sense of smell that draws you to the food you love and so often makes you pine for years gone by. I made this tart for a family gathering, for family I rarely see and never really knew growing up so it initially had no significance to me or my family.
But this rustic apple tart is something special. Between what this tart brought back to me while baking and how well-loved it turned out to be, I now have very good reasons for making it again. Those memories of my “Robin days” and visiting with my family last week may eventually get pushed to the recesses of my memory but this maple glazed rustic apple tart will always bring them back.
Maple Glazed Rustic Apple Tart
- Prep Time: 1hr 30min
- Cook Time: 30min
- Yield: 1 14-inch tart
For the dough:
1 ¾ cups + 2 tbsp (240 grams) all-purpose flour
¾ tsp table salt
2 ¼ tsp granulated sugar
Zest of half a lemon
12 tbsp (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Scant ½ cup ricotta cheese, yogurt or sour cream
¼ to ½ cup cold water
For the filling:
3 medium apples (I used Golden Delicious), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of table salt
Juice of 1 lemon
For baking and finishing:
2 tbsp pure maple syrup, divided
2 tbsp heavy cream or half-and-half
To make the dough: Whisk the flour, salt, sugar, and zest together in a medium bowl. Work the butter chunks into the dry ingredients with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or two knives until the butter is the size of large peas. In a small bowl, stir the ricotta and ¼ cup of water together until combined and then stir it into the other ingredients just until the dough holds together when gently squeezed. If the dough is too dry, add extra water a little at a time until it comes together.
Shape the dough into a disk (or divide it into multiple disks for smaller tarts), wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 48 – or freeze for up to 2 months.
Preheat the oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to about 16-inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and chill until the filling is ready.
To make the filling: Stir the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour them into the center of the dough round, leaving a 2-inch border around the outside of the dough. Fold up the edges of the dough so that they overlap the previously folded edge. Brush the tops of the filling with half of the maple syrup. Brush the top of the dough with the cream. I like to brush a little between the dough folds as well to ensure the dough sticks together and doesn’t leak fruit juice while baking. Sprinkle the dough with sugar.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack. Brush the remaining syrup over the baked apples. Allow the tart to cool for 10 minutes before serving warm or allow it to cool to room temperature before serving.
pastry dough adapted from this recipe | apple filling is a Smells Like Home original
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