Exactly a dozen years ago today, on a soupy-fluffernutter-foggy dawn we were driving south on Interstate 5 to the city of Angels to meet our first grandchild who was busy laboring his way into this world. Each passing year has brought new surprises as he grows up. There were the music years (still going strong) when he wanted to play bass fiddle like his dad and got a ½ sized cello so he could reach the top of the neck. He was three. Then there were the magical Lego years followed by a leap into food prep and cooking.
When he was ten years old I received a one-line email from our boy of few words. He wanted a recipe for apple strudel. I never did get a clear idea of why he was asking but it was intriguing enough that I was sure we had a new generation of pastry baker in the family. I sent him some ideas and a few cookbooks aimed at his age. But none of those really come close to describing how to create old fashioned strudel.
Someday I will teach the boy how to roll strudel dough like his great-grandmother did – so that you can almost see through it. But for today, I just want to wish him a very happy first dozen-years birthday and it seems fitting to share a recipe that I know he can make.
I’m hoping that he finds dough making fun. It is one of those things that you learn over time if you are game. It is not rocket science (although there are food chemists who would argue that it is indeed, science) It is more about tinkering and getting to know the feel of dough.
With a little experience it comes together by look and feel more than any measurement. Adjustments are made as it goes along and you hope for the best and anticipate for the not so best. Practice. I can certainly say I’ve thrown out my share of dough-wrecks along the way.
But this recipe is pretty easy and goes together in no time at all. The hard part is getting someone else (and that is what little brothers are for) to peel the apples. Once you have all your ingredients on hand, just get going and in about 15 minutes it is ready for the oven.
Zach’s Gluten Free French Apple Tart
- 2 cups total of gluten free flours and starches
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening
- 2 tablespoons very cold cream cheese
- 10 tablespoons icy cold butter
- 1 large egg
- About ½ cup ice cold water
- 5 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
- About 1/3 cup sugar
- Raspberry or apricot jam flavored with liquor or almond flavoring
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the size of your baking sheet (the baking sheet should have sides).
Mix together flour(s), salt, sugar in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix it up well. Cut the shortening, cream cheese and butter into small cubes and drop in. Pulse about 10 times until the mixture looks like large peas. Through the top chute, pour in about ¼ cup of ice water and pulse a few times until the dough gathers into a ball. Stop as soon as it does. Add more water as needed to get it do to that.
Using the piece of cut parchment, drop the dough onto it and pat with a little bit of flour if too sticky. Using a 2nd piece of parchment or plastic wrap – roll the dough to about 10×14 inches. Gently pull off the plastic wrap or parchment from the top. Take the edges and roll them up slightly so it almost resembles a pizza.
Place the cut apples in a pattern, overlapping them. Use as many as you can. More is good. Sprinkle the sugar all over the top.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and turn the oven to 375. Bake about 25 minutes more or until the apples are browning, the crust is very golden and the sugar is caramelized somewhat.
Mix the jam (heat it slightly and strain) with the flavoring(s) and brush over the top.
Cool and using an offset spatula, carefully slide it between the crust and parchment to loosen the tart before it is totally cold. Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you wish.
Notes: If you are 12 years old, you will need help from your mom using the food processor and the hot oven. But since I gave your mom a food processor once upon a time, this should be a cinch, especially if she remembers to use pot holders!
I like a mixture of brown rice flour, gluten free oat flour and white rice flour with potato starch.
And with thanks to the ever wonderful Ina Garten and her most excellent French Apple Tart recipe which we gently modified.
Happy 1/11/11 birthday to Zach!
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