I am an unabashed fan of refrigerated pie crusts. I am certain that the number of pies I would make if I was only allowed to make crust from scratch would be about 15 per cent of my current pie output. And I know that my friends and family would be very sad should that happen.
The refrigerated stuff is great. It just gets a quick roll on the counter, then with a quick fold-and-transfer-technique (see the recipe for how it’s done) it’s in the pan in a snap. Couldn’t be easier.
I am also a huge fan of creme fraiche, which is a lush, thick cream. It’s one of those secret ingredients that can turn something simple into something spectacular. Unadulterated, it has a rich, slightly nutty and tart flavour. And it shines in both sweet and savory cooking. When you add a little sugar and cinnamon to it, it turns this tart into something that feels restaurant-fancy. You can find it in tubs in the cheese section of the supermarket, or the dairy case.
A final little trick in this recipe ‚Äî the inclusion of cornstarch. As the apples cook, they release juices, which can make the bottom of the tart soggy. The cornstarch nicely thickens up these juices and binds the apple filling together a bit. The result of all of this is the fastest, easiest apple tart I know how to make, but that’s not the impression it will leave on your guests.
EASY APPLE TART WITH CINNAMON CREME FRAICHE
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours
For the tart:Butter, for the pan, plus 2 tablespoons chilled and cut into small pieces
1 refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of a 15-ounce package), room temperature
4 large cooking apples, such as McIntosh or Granny Smith, peeled, halved and cored
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/3 cup apricot or peach jam or preserves
For the cinnamon creme fraiche:3/4 cup creme fraiche
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat the oven to 400 F. Butter a 9-inch tart pan, preferably one with a removable bottom.
Very thinly slice the apple halves. A mandoline is best, but a knife is fine. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch. Add this mixture to the apples and toss to combine.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crust to a little over 11-inches. Fold it into quarters so that is looks like a triangle with a rounded edge. Transfer it into the prepared tart pan, with the point of the triangle in the middle of the pan, then unfold it so that the pie crust lines the pan. Gently press the crust into and up the sides of the pan. Arrange the apples as artistically as you like in the tart shell, overlapping them slightly.
Place the jam in a small, microwave-safe bowl and heat in 15-second burst, stirring between, until melted and smooth. Brush the melted jam over the tops of the apples. Dot the apples evenly with the butter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the crust is firm and golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then remove the outer edge of the pan, if possible, and finish cooling on the tart base on the wire rack.
When ready to serve, prepare the cinnamon creme fraiche. In a small bowl, whisk the creme fraiche with the powdered sugar and cinnamon until well blended and smooth.
Serve the tart slightly warm or at room temperature with a generous dollop of the cinnamon creme fraiche.
Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories; 170 calories from fat (50 per cent of total calories); 19 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 40 mg cholesterol; 150 mg sodium; 45 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 25 g sugar; 2 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/