As satisfying as it is to eat freshly picked apples straight up and unadorned, the chill of fall makes it equally tempting to head back to the kitchen and bake them into a pie.
But that's where most people get tripped up. They fear a fussy pie crust. They loath a long baking time or a persnickety filling. So we decided to come up with an easy apple tart that uses a fuss-free crust and comes together in under an hour. Even better — because the filling is only gently cooked on the stovetop, the apples retain more of their crisp, fresh, just-picked flavor.
EASY AUTUMN APPLE TART
Start to finish: 1 hour
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
Heat the oven to 400 F. Coat an 11-inch removable bottom tart pan with baking spray.
In a food processor, combine the butter, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Pulse several times. Add the flour and pulse to combine, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Poke the bottom all over with a fork. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
While the crust bakes, make the filling. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the apples, vinegar, brown sugar, cider, cinnamon and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, gently stirring to promote even cooking but without breaking the apples, until just tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
In a small glass, mix together the cornstarch and water. Add to the apples and cook, stirring gently, for 2 minutes, or until thickened.
When the crust and apples are cooked, spoon the apples into the crust, arranging them in concentric circles if desired. Pour any extra juices over the surface of the apples. Serve warm or room temperature.
Nutrition information per serving: 270 calories; 120 calories from fat (44 percent of total calories); 14 g fat (9 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 19 g sugar; 2 g protein; 85 mg sodium.