Apple tart inspiration has run amok. Just see Smitten Kitchen or Dash and Bella for evidence. And while the boys haven’t tired of a crispy shaved apple eaten out of hand, I am old enough to know the merits of spiced apples, apple pies, apple sauce, apple cake and, yes, apple tart.
So, after settling the boys down to their nap, I retrieve half a dozen apples from the fridge. I find mis-en-place a peaceful ritual. The apples must be peeled, then cut into thin slices. I could use a mandolin, but I prefer the rhythm of a knife. It gives my hands something to do so that I can think. A few months ago, Mingus was hacking a banana with his faux chef’s knife, serial killer-style. Resisting my urge to admonish him, I whispered, “Let the knife do the work.” He has taken ownership of the phrase and repeats it when I’m using the wrong knife. An irregular thunk… thunk….. thunk is the tell. So, with his voice in my head, I put away my steak knife and get out a proper tool.
When Beluga wakes, I ask, “Do you want to make a tart with me?”
“It has apples and butter and sugar. Does that sound good?”
“Yup!” he exclaims and runs to the kitchen.
He spreads out a layer of flour on the pan. We lay out the defrosted pastry dough and when I ask, “Do you want to spread the apples?”, he responds, “Eat them!” Should I really interfere with his passion for unadorned fruit?
Like a ballplayer, I’m on offense, spreading the apples slices; Beluga defends the ingredients he loves from the evils of “cooking”, scooping them up and putting them back in their bowl. Beluga, however, has a handicap – he’s hungry. While he munches a delicious lemon-doused apple slice, I cover the last corner of pastry.
Between tastes, Beluga sprinkles sugar over the tart and then does “stompy feet” behind the oven line, when I put the tray in the oven.
“It’s going to be delicious!” I promise him.
As I melt some sugar in a saucepan to make a caramel sauce, Beluga’s patience runs out.
“Sit down with me,” he says.
He’s not yet two and managed to say four words together. There just won’t be caramel. Oh well.
I’m no tart master, so if you want a recipe look elsewhere. That said, there’s really there’s no messing it up. A 400 degree oven, 40 minutes. Pastry dough, thin apple slices, sugar. That’s all you need to know. And when you’re running late the next morning for school and see half a tart sitting on the counter, tuck a few slices in a paper bag. The taxi driver may or may not notice the crumbs. He probably won’t say anything.