Posted by Susie Middleton
I see a pretty apple, I buy it. Not several, just one. Lately, I've been collecting local apples, taking pictures of them and then adding them to a growing arrangement on my dining room table. Yeah, occasionally I actually eat one, too. But this morning I looked at the whole lot of them and thought: apple tart.
It occurred to me that for anyone who wants to add some local food to the Thanksgiving table, apples are a great bet since they grow everywhere. And just on the FineCooking.com alone, there are dozens of killer apple desserts and pies (and I know, I've tasted almost all of them at some time or another). But I tend to get stuck on one thing I really like, so this morning I decided on an apple galette (also called a rustic fruit tart). I first learned to make these free-form tarts when I was a cook at Al Forno Restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, years ago, but I've come to really like pastry chef Joanne Chang's method, because her dough is easy to handle and holds up well in the oven. I do make my dough in the food processor, though, rather than the stand mixer, as it cuts the butter in more evenly and makes a flakier crust.
This weekend someone gave me a bunch of wild hickory nuts, so I wanted to incorporate them into my tart. At first I bashed away at them with a heavy frying pan, picking pieces of shell out of the sugar bowl and off my sweater. Then I got smart and went online. I discovered you have to soak them in hot water before trying to crack them. That worked, but I still had to nudge the nut meat out of the shell with a paring knife.
I added some of the nuts (finely chopped) to the dough and mixed the rest with the sugar I sprinkled on top of the tart. For the apple filling, I used the Jonagold, the Macoun, and a new variety called a Yataka Fuji. When the tart came out of the oven, I waited (not very patiently) for it to cool, and then cut a slice. It was awesome, the crust super-flaky. I think it was one of the best galettes I've ever made. But then again, with apples, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutsâ€¦it's hard to go wrong. If you want to make one of these for Thanksgiving, the dough can be made ahead and refrigerated.