I’m always tinkering with ways to interpret the holidays in a natural way. This rustic dessert proves worthy of representing the stars and stripes all summer long. Recently, when making apple chips, inspiration struck — how pretty would the stars from the apple cross section be for a 4th of July dessert?
No cookie cutters, red and blue dye or tedious layering of trifles — just apples sliced to display that star and my go-to crust is all you need to represent beautifully.
Even though we just welcomed summer, my apples are falling off the trees, calendar-be-damned. We inherited these Anna and Fuji apples with the house, beautifully espaliered on a wire fence. Both varieties are great in our Mediterranean-like climate because of low chill requirements. Small in size with a wonderful punch of flavor they’re constants in our baking and snacking rotations.
A rustic tart is forgiving and perfection is not the goal, it looks better a little rough and sexy. You can simply patch up the dough where needed around the edges, either with extra dough or with a little cool water. If you have a baking stone use it, it makes a divine crispy crust.
Also, feel free to step outside the apple box. You can use this same technique for whatever fruit you have in the garden or that impulse buy of a case of apricots at Costco. When we get a little deeper into summer, I’ll be making this with mulberries, plums and figs and a mix of all three!
Just remember whatever you use that most stone fruits and apples lose their sugar when cooked so always balance the flavors or you’ll end up with a pucker-faced crowd at dessert time. This recipe is pretty lean on sugar so the fruit can shine without it being overly sweet, but it’s just sweet enough.
All-American Apple Galette
Makes one tart, approx. 10” in diameter
Note: Remember that most apples and stone fruit lose their sugar when cooked, so make sure to account for that or you’ll end up with a pucker-faced crowd at the dessert table. I tried to go lean on the sugar here, giving just enough to allow the flavor of the fruit to shine.
4 cups thinly sliced apples, about 1 pound
3 tablespoons sugar (divided)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons apricot or peach jam
Place the baking stone in the middle of the oven and set oven to 425 degrees. Remove any racks on top of the stone.
Roll out a circle of pie dough on parchment. Making on parchment keeps things neat, tidy and easy for transportation to the baking stone in the oven. You might have to add a splash of flour to the dough if it sticks to your rolling pin as you roll it. Roll it out to a large circle about 13” wide and 1/4 “ thick. Place the dough on a cookie sheet and slide it in the refrigerator until you are finished slicing the apples.
With a hand mandolin or a sharp chefs knife, slice the apples thru the center so you’re left with a star in the middle of most pieces, about 1/8” thick. The amount of apples used will vary depending on size. The goal is about 4 cups of sliced apples. In a bowl, toss the apples with 2 tablespoons of sugar (reserve the other sugar for the top of the tart) and lemon juice.
If they haven’t already, most of the seeds will fall out during the slicing and tossing. Any stragglers you can pick out as you lay the pieces in the dough.
Using an off set spatula, or the back of a spoon spread the jam on the dough, leaving a 1.5” border around the circumference of the pie. Lay the apple pieces in concentric circles overlapping a bit until all of the pieces have been used – leaving the border in tact. Fold over the border area onto the fruit and then sprinkle the whole thing with sugar – even the crust.
Side note: If you want the crust to be extra delicious at this point you can place the galette in the freezer to freeze the butter in the crust – it’s a beautiful thing. But if you’re impatient and/or your kids are drooling over the tart just stick it in the oven.
Bake on the heated baking stone for 35-40 minutes.
It’s ready when the crust is crispy throughout and a dark golden brown. If you have more jam you can heat it on the stove with a splash of brandy or water and brush it over the top of the galette as it cools. This will make it glisten and look like those beautiful French pastry tarts you see in France.
If there happens to be any leftovers, it makes for a dandy breakfast alongside a cup of hot coffee.