I'm a summer girl through and through. I used to loath when September came because it meant vacation was over, school was starting and the cold was on its way. But as I become older, and especially this year for some reason, I feel like I'm really excepting it. It really is a beautiful season; the change in color of the leaves, the crisp cool air, and the idea that lovely smells of cinnamon, apples, roasted vegetables, and pumpkin will soon fill my home.
I actually am looking forward to pulling on my familiar layers of woolen socks, sweaters, and colorful scarfs. Waking up to chilly days and wanting only to stay in the warmth my bed provides. The only reasons I can remember to even admitting what I did liked about the Fall and Winter seasons were the food. I love pumpkin pie and spice everything. Warm drinks, baked casseroles, and of course apple pie.
My parents planted two apple trees in our yard when I was really little. I remember every year waiting and hoping for apples to appear. It took awhile and when they finally came there was only a handful, but either the deer or bugs had gotten to them first. After that, I soon was in high school and my attention for fruit growing in your own yard had diminished, for interests in other more important things on my mind then.
Now, years later, the trees grow so many apples my parents have to give them away. That suits me just fine, I'll take a free apple any day. So I brought home a large bag full of crisp, juicy apples and baked a Dutch appletaart.
This was my first appletaart, and yes, it is spelled with two a's. I've made apple pie many times, but wanted to save that for closer to the holiday season. Although I think I've found an apple pie replacement for this year. This thing was so good we ate it consecutively for 3 days, it didn't matter if it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, I think I ate a slice at least once a day as a meal. The crust is like a tender, buttery cookie balanced perfectly with the soft , tart, cinnamon apples.
One note on the crust. Unlike traditional pie crust you roll out, this is much more crumbly in texture and is patted in the pan when being prepared. Also I know that quartering the apples might seem too large, but they soften and I think it helps to keep the apples from getting mushy while being cooked for so long, just make sure you leave vents for the steam to escape.
Adapted from Sweet Amandine
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg white, lightly beaten, for the glaze
3-4 pounds apples (8-10 med. apples); I used Jonagold, you could also use Cortland or Granny Smith
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
half a lemon
In the bowl of a large (14-cup) food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and pulse to blend. Add the cubed butter, and process for about ten seconds, until the dough looks like a coarse meal. Add the two eggs, and pulse to incorporate. Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, push it together into a lump, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
While the dough is chilling, or at least the last half, butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan, peel, core, and quarter the apples, stir together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, and preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
Press about three-quarters of the chilled dough into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. The thickness of the dough along the sides and bottom should be about a quarter of an inch thick.
Place a layer of apples into the pan, squirt them with a few squeezes of lemon, and sprinkle them with half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Repeat with another layer of apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar. The apples will lose some of their liquid and shrink as they bake, so you’ll want to mound them an inch or so higher than the top of the pan.
Use the remaining dough to form a top crust. Rip off a handful of dough, press and pat it flat between the palms of your hands, and drape it over a portion of the apples. Repeat until you have covered all of the apples. Make sure to leave enough space between some of the dough patches to serve as “built-in” vents for the steam. Paint the top crust with the lightly-beaten egg white.
Bake at 350˚ F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, turning the pan once half way through. You can place a baking sheet under your spring-form pan to prevent any leakage or spillage onto your oven if you'd like.
Let the appeltaart cool to room temperature before slicing into it so that the filling can set.