Let’s take a break to slow down even for a day to not only be grateful but pause before we enter the frenzy of December and holiday season.
Here are two recipes that will surely delight your family celebrations that can even be prepared by the little ones. The apple tart and cranberry muffins have been prepared by my young daughters.
This tart is simply scrumptious and is adapted from Alice Waters’s recipe.
Alice Waters’s Apple Tart
1 cup (125 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 85 grams) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons (50 ml) chilled water
2 pounds (910 grams) apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons (65 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until the biggest pieces look like large peas.
DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until the dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon of water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400°F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)
OVERLAP apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over the pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.
BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto the dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples. (Deb note: I found it nearly impossible to coat it with this much sugar, so I used a little less–more like 3 tablespoons. It made a lightly sweet tart, which we found perfect.)
BAKE in the center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and the crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate the tart every 15 minutes.
MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.
REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.
BRUSH glaze over tart, slice, and serve.
Cranberry Muffins, this recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s cookbook and is heavenly and fun for all ages to prepare. They make a great breakfast and freeze well.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup medium-diced Calimyrna figs
3/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Stir quickly just to combine. Add the cranberries, figs, hazelnuts, and both sugars and stir just to distribute the fruits, nuts, and sugar evenly throughout the batter.
Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each one to the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned on the top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean.
Prerana R. Sangani, MD, MPH, November 17, 2021