Oh my word. How may I adequately thank our dear Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants?
A couple of months ago he sent me a note, asking for my snailmail addy because he had a little bit of Christmas love to send my way. Gosh.
Jerry and I "met" a couple of years ago, when he was still a newish foodblogger. He sent me a note and I rambled on and on and on (anyone who emails me knows that they run the distinct risk of receiving anywhere from a one-word reply to upwards of a 2 000 -word treatise).
I love hearing from new bloggers and people who want to be bloggers (foodish or otherwise). Sometimes they just want to say "hi," sometimes they've got technical questions, sometimes they need a little moral support or a big kick in the electronic tushie to get going and put their thoughts and creativity to pixels. I do my best to impart whatever it is I can and when I can, I'll peek at what they're doing. It's all about paying it forward, my friends.
Jerry's one of the regular ones I keep an eye on. Not only is he a dear soul--supportive, bright and creative--his foodish passions are expressed so well. If you've not visited it, by all means take a look.
Anyway, Jerry sent me a little box of goodies as a way of thanking me for my supportive words early in his blogging career. As usual, Canada Post decided to have its way with my foodish giftie and deposited it into the infernal Supermailbox well into January. (I swear...there must be a notice in the Postie lunch rooms across Canada telling them to withold any and all parcels destined for me because there's a good chance there will be food...good food...in the box. I think I'm running a 50 per cent delivery rate...and of course, when you ask them about this, the *lovely* people at the Post Office tells you it was delivered. They just don't tell you to where it was actually delivered...this marks the end of this round of my Canada Post rant.)
So, how to thank such a kind and sweet soul for his time and efforts to the e-foodish world, as well as the support he gave me last year?
Well...I do the only thing I can...and make him a treat. I've been hankering to do a tart for a while--a return to my tarty ways, I suppose and after some pondering, I came up with a simple and lovely apple tart.
I normally do a traditional double-crusted apple pie, but my pastry skills have atrophied quite a bit...definitely not up to gift-giving snuff. So, instead of a flaky-crusted pie, my sights turned to a sweet shortcrust tart.
The crust itself is closer to a shortbread-type dough, fortified with egg yolks. Sweet, crisp and just lightly scented with vanilla, even the most nervous pastry maker can turn out a lovely tart.
I'm a bit of a fan of caramel apple pies, but for something like this, I wanted just a hint of caramel, so after par-baking the crust, I slathered a couple of spoonfuls of dulce de leche on the base. The apples were zhuzhed a bit with cinnamon and spritzes of orange juice before fanning onto the sweetened, sweet crust. After those slices' edges have bronzed, and the tart is removed from the oven, brush melted apricot jamp over the still warm fruit.
Thank you so much, Jerry. You are an absolute gem.
For one 23cm/9" tart
One recipe, sweet shortcrust tart, par baked (recipe follows)
2 bulgey teaspoons of dulce de leche or caramel sauce
3-4 apples, depending on the size of the apples, peeled and sliced into wedges
the juice of one orange
0.5 tsp cinnamon
melted apricot jam for glazing
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Roll the pastry to about .8cm thickness and lay in the tart pan. Trim the edges and dock the bottom before parbaking for 10 minutes. Brush the base with dulce de leche.
Combine the apples, juice, a few spoons of sugar and cinnamon. Fan the apples onto the pastry. Cover with tin foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the apples' edges are bronzed.
While still warm, brush fruit with melted jam.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry for one 9" tart
225g ap flour
2 Beaten Egg Yolks
0.5 tsp Vanilla Salt
0.5 tsp Vanilla paste
1-2 Tbsp Water
Sieve the flour, sugar and salt together into a bowl. Then grate the butter into the flour and rub lightly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the yolks, vanilla paste and water, until a soft but not sticky pastry is formed.
Wrap tightly in cling and chill for about half an hour.