Apples and Spices and Pie Crust, oh my!

While writing posts about the baking I've been doing has been few and far between these past few months, I have been baking. There was the baby shower cupcakes, the birthday cake, blackberries galore and much, much more. For some reason, putting fingers to keyboard didn't really appeal to me, but then after the "Storm of the Century" (well, here in New York City) the one way I was able to make sense of the mess that was left after Sandy passed through was by baking. The moment I put on my apron and sorted out a recipe in my head, I could momentarily push aside the anxiety rising inside me and a state of calm purpose replaced it. One of the best American comfort baked goods out there, I think, is Apple Pie. Being that I had some slowly shriveling apples and motivation, a free-form Spiced Apple Tart was born!

Free-Form Apple Tart

2/3 cup of cubed chilled butter
2 cups flour
Pinch of Salt
1/3 cup of ice-water

(I used a food processor for this, because it works so well to keep the crust flaky, but you can use a pastry cutter, two knives or whatever works for you.)

In your food processor, add the flour, pinch of salt and pulse once. Then add the butter cubes and pulse until  the mixture resembles small crumbs. Slowly add the ice-water to the mixture - not all of it, but just enough until the dough begins to form a ball. Remove dough from processor bowl and form into a flattened disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 mins.

5 apples, peeled, and cut into 1/8 pieces (avoid any sour apples for this recipe)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup of spiced apple wine (or any spirit you fancy)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let marinate for 30 mins to an hour.

AssemblyFlour a clean surface and roll out your pie dough in a large, circular shape. Keep it to 1/4 inch thickness - you want a thicker crust for this kind of tart.

Place dough on a baking sheet.

Drain the apples from the marinating liquid (reserve the liquid for a quick caramel glaze) and arrange in a circular mound in the center of the crust, leaving about two inches of crust free.

Fold the remaining crust over the apples, making sure to seal any cracks that might appear. Make a simple egg wash (whole egg + 2 TBSP water + some beating = egg wash) and brush all over the crust.

Bake at 425 for 45 mins. Remove and add the glaze (see recipe below)

Caramel Apple Glaze
Reserved liquid from apple marinade
3 TBSP butter

In a small sauce pan, heat the liquid until bubbling, add the butter and stir until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and set aside until use.

You can have your pie with sour cream, whipped cream, or with some fresh berries like I did.

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