Lazy Man’s Sheet Pan Apple Tart

Although I can manage a country-style loaf of sourdough bread, more refined baking is my Achilles heel.  I avoid making pastry the way I avoid hanging doors or framing windows.  In a post-apocalyptic  world where my survival depended on advanced carpentry skills to keep the zombies out I would muddle through, but in the meantime I’m content to stand back and admire better bakers than I.  I’ve made what I call the Lazy Man’s Sheet Pan Apple Tart successfully a half-dozen times.  It’s delicious, forgiving (to a point) and clumsiness with the crust only contributes to its rustic appearance.  It seemed a no-brainer for a post when I’d be on my own while Jody tended to her new restaurant.  Alas, The best laid schemes 0′ Mice and Men etc. etc.  More on that in a bit.

This tart takes its inspiration from a recipe in a favorite cookbook, A PLATTER OF FIGS (Artisan, 2008) by David Tanis, the part-time head chef at Chez Panisse.  One of the book’s charms is arrangement into seasonal menus rather than the more conventional appetizers-soups-vegetables-etc.  The food manages to be both simple and deeply sensual (sample fall menu: Steamed Fennel with Red Pepper Oil, Roasted Quail with Grilled Radicchio and Creamy Polenta, and Italian Plum Cake).  It’s filled with stuff that you really want to make, even if you engage in a bit of mixing and matching with the menus or just cherry-pick something for a week night.  Any of the items will provoke swoons of gustatory pleasure.

Tanis’s unpretentious apple tart is made on a sheet pan.  The lazy man in my version comes from the fact that I use a mechanical apple peeler (hey, I’m a guy, I love gizmos, and this one really works), I use fewer apples than he does (I find they caramelize faster), and instead of following his instructions for magicking homemade glaze out of apple cores, sugar and water I take his advice and just thin a little apricot jam.  For purists, I’ve included the recipe more or less as he wrote it (increase the quantity of apples to 3 pounds  – about 8 apples – instead of the 2½ I use).

I’ve made this tart with apples and pears, fiddled with the amount of dough and quantity of fruit but it seems not much to matter.  It always comes out in a glorious burnt-around-the edges kind of way.  The recipe suggests a baking time of about 45 minutes.  I’ve made the tart and it has taken that long.  I’ve also had it take up to 15 minutes longer.  How thin you slice the fruit, how much fruit you use, the thickness of your crust, your oven, etc. – all of them seem to affect the amount of time it takes for the fruit to brown around the edges.

David Tanis has you bake the tart, then brush each portion with glaze right before serving.  I prefer to brush the tart with a bit of glaze about three-quarters of the way through baking, then follow Tanis’s example before serving.  Glazing appears to  speed the caramelizing process.  The first brushing is completely absorbed, as you can tell from the photo of the tart right after it emerged from the oven.

Back to gang aft agley.  Our modus operandi is for Jody to cook while I photograph.  Jody’s daunting schedule made that unlikely last week and the cupboard was bare of any posts saved for a rainy day.  I volunteered to fly solo, envisioning myself pausing while I considered the compositional implication of dough positioning, the esthetics of apple peels shot through a macro lens.  I saw myself snapping off a few frames, then advancing to the next culinary esthetic juncture.  What could go wrong? 

I discovered that trying to mix dough, then washing your hands, taking a picture, going to the next step, washing your hands, taking a picture, etc. was a sticky nightmare, at least with this crust, where speed and minimal handling  of the dough are a priority.  My hat’s off to any food blogger who can actually do this (are you there, Sally, at Cooking Lessons?).   I’m sorry but there are no photos of critical tart crust steps (actually there aren’t really any critical steps in this recipe).  You’ll have to stumble along as best you can.

Secondly, the preheating oven began belching black clouds of smoke.  We had a house full of people this past weekend and did a lot of roasting.  Someone probably gave a pan of sweet potatoes a little too vigorous a stir and splashed pomegranate molasses on the oven floor.

In any event, there  was nothing for it but to throw open the windows, allow the oven to cool, then clean it, by which time I’d moved into the time-to-take-Roxanne-to-dance zone.

I stashed the dough in the fridge and finished the tart the following day–peeling and photographing as my apples slowly oxidized (that’s not cinnamon on the apples in the photo of the tart before it’s baked).  But just as Tanis said, it didn’t matter that the apples darkened.  It was still great.  In fact, almost as satisfying as a well-hung door.

Lazy Man’s Sheet Pan Apple Tart

Makes 1 15½-by-10½-inch tart

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for sprinkling
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut  into thin pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten, plus enough ice water to make ½ cup
  • 5 – 7 crisp apples (about 2½ pounds)
  • 1 cup sugar for the glaze, plus extra for sprinkling on the apples
  •  ½ cup apricot jam

Directions:

  1. Put the flour, butter and salt in a bowl.  With your fingers, work the butter into the flour until it looks mealy, with some large flecks of butter remaining.  Pour the egg-ice water mixture into the bowl and quickly knead the dough until it comes together.  Only a minute or two – you don’t want the butter to melt.  It will be soft, sticky, and, though gathered together, a little rough looking.
  2. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.  Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
  3. Divide the pastry in half (there will be enough for two tarts; you can freeze one half for later).  Roll out the pastry to a rectangle, approximately 11 by 16 inches, using a 15½-by-10½-inch baking sheet as a template.
  4. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and let it relax.  If your dough isn’t perfectly rectangular just patch with bits and pieces as necessary, then trim the edges to fit the pan with a little going slightly up the sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  5. Peel the apples and cut into quarters (or use your genuine New England apple-potato peeler).  Remove the cores and use to make a glaze as follows: Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water with the cores.  Stir at first to dissolve the sugar, then simmer to a thick syrup.  Strain and reserve.  (Or use honey or good apricot jam, thinned, for a glaze – I used apricot jam.)
  6. Slice the apples as thin as possible.  Arrange the slices over the pastry in rows, overlapping them like cards in solitaire.  At this point the tart can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 8 hours.  (It’s okay if the apples darken.)
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Sprinkle sugar generously over the apples and bake until that are beautifully browned and crisp, about 45 minutes.  About ¾ of the way through the cooking I brushed a thin layer of glaze over the tart.  After the tart has finished allow it to cool on a rack.
  8. Just before serving, reheat the glaze.  Slide the tart from the pan onto a cutting board.  Paint the apples with the warmed glaze.  Slice into small rectangles or triangles or whatever strikes your fancy to serve.

Jody Notes:

I honestly had absolutely nothing to do with this post except to have the good fortune to find it sitting on the counter just waiting to be brushed with glaze on Wednesday when I got home.  Or was it thursday.  It was about 3 in the morning  when things always taste the best so I didn’t stop with one slice…

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214 thoughts

  1. Theoretically you can use it for potatoes as well, although we like potatoes in their skins – or “jackets,” as we used to say in rural Michigan. About the only time we peel them is when making pommes anna, when Jody peels them by hand, more out of habit than anything else. I suppose you could use it for scalloped potatoes (hmm, maybe a future post). Something I didn’t mention in the post is that coring and slicing is optional (you obviously don’t want to core potatoes). Kids go crazy when this thing comes out – everybody wants a turn, everybody wants to see who can make/eat the longest apple peel. Amazon.com sells about 27 different variations on the same one, most less than $25. Ken

  2. You had me at “at the lazy man is this version….” When I was a child and making my own bed, if I didn’t shake out the sheets first my mother used to say, “That’s a lazy man’s way to make the bed.”

    ….but I digress. Your recipe sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

    Ronnie

  3. Lovely post and very delicious looking tart. I’ve tried galette type tarts twice with not the greatest success, so something like this might be my next tart adventure.

    My blog is a solo adventure and I do all the baking and photographing by myself, so I haven’t figured out a way to make pastry and take photos at the same time. As you said, it just gets too messy, and I don’t want to end up with bits of dough in my camera.

    • I had a drink with another blogger and photographer last night – you have to be a real masochist to do pastry and photograph it yourself. Try the tart – just stopping working the dough while there are still bits of butter in it. Good luck. Ken

    • Try putting the camera in a Ziploc bag and cutting a hole for the lens. Works great! I use this trick when photographing my wood-working projects to prevent glue and sawdust from getting into the camera.

      You may need a rubber band or two to get the bag to stay in the right spot.

      • @TacoMagic: Thanks for the good suggestion. It might be a bit tricky because I am not using a DSLR but rather a point and shoot (although it has manual functions) so the lens retracts if you let it sit too long.

        And yes Ken I agree, it is a bit masochistic. I might just leave those actions shots for the other bloggers. Or maybe enlist a helper every once in awhile.

  4. I love anything that starts out with lazy man! Your photos are awesome. Don’t know if I will make this – saw lazy man and thought pre-made pie crust! Ha ha! But I will print because photos are so beautiful and I think it would be delicious and I might actually make it one day. Thanks!

  5. Hmmm… I think I will try combining your apple sheet pan concept with Sally Schneider’s dough recipe. She has a minimal fat, maximal flavor dough that she uses for free form tart and the result is delish. I suspect that her dough will go very well with your sheet pan / apple layering style and will result in an ethereal pie.

  6. Thanks Ken. I am definitely inspired. I was looking for a reason to abandon (not for always) the faithful apple crisp I have been making over these past several months of pregnancy. I’ve found it! Thank you sir.

  7. Delicious, beautiful, and maybe I’m just older than all of you…and brought up by folks who were young adults during the depression…the photos of the apple peeler are beautiful, and yet…I kept thinking “waste…look at all that waste..” and I’ll stick to using a sharp paring knife (loved the curved kind, for fruit) and just take off the skin, thinly. Sure like lazy men like you, who create!

  8. I found the comments in your post about the combined effort of photgraphy and cooking food time both funny and spot on. I’ve coated my camera more than once with flour, grease and various levels of goo more than once. I’ve always thought that should be one of the quick fire challenges on Top Chef. Your pastry looks amazing…congrats on being pressed.

  9. I have to admit, one of my greatest fears is baking. I could never tell if it was my oven or me that ends up burning the pastry. I can cook everything else, but ask me to bake something and I lose all confidence. This recipe looks easy enough and I do love apple tart. I’ll have to try this recipe and hope for the best!

  10. Will give this a try. I’ve got the peeler, and the kids love using it and eating the curly skins. Will have to try it with rice flour though. Will let you know how it turns out.
    Love your photography.

  11. Last fall, we purchased 3 bushels of apples. I peeled them all by hand. Then, that Christmas, we visited family in rural VA and found that apple peeler at a country store. I was a little enraged that we didn’t have it when it mattered. We have it now. And again, 3 bushels of apples…

  12. I’ve been working my way through apple recipes and documenting some of the results. That nifty gadget would have come in handy when I was peeling and slicing five pounds of apples, while working with bread dough, and attempting to photograph the fruits and grains of my labor. I like your relaxed, humorous attitude to cooking and photography and I am very pleased to have discovered this blog. Wish I lived in Boston, so I could visit your restaurants.

  13. Crusts and I have had a troubled past… but I’d be delighted to give this one a go! Anything rustic and forgiving is my kind of recipe:) Loved your story, I frequently have clouds of black smoke billowing out (why don’t ovens vent outside??) but I plow ahead without bothering to clean (shhh, it’s a secret!)

  14. Ooh, sweet potato and pomegranate molasses. I just did a quick search on your blog to make sure I hadn’t missed that post. For now, it’s a kernel of an idea in my head that I might have to explore this week. Of course, I don’t actually have any sweet potatoes, but a butternut squash came in this week’s CSA which is as big as my cat. So much to think about!

    Also, I haven’t yet made the sage pesto — not sure why as I have all the ingredients in the house — but just wanted to say that your squash and squash seed roasting method were pitch perfect. Thanks again!

    • Great. And p.m. with roasted sweet potatoes, although we haven’t written about it yet, is also a great combo. Check out our post on broccoli rabe with pomegranate for a stain-free way of getting the seeds. Ken

  15. Looks delicious. I am going to try this with my little ones. Seems like a nice one for letting little hands help. Especially with laying out the apple slices.

  16. This is fantastic and I’m not much of a baking aficionado myself, so I’m so glad this can be an easy one!! Also, I’m from the south, and I remember as a kid, my dad getting out his pocket knife and trying to peel an apple and get one entire peeling. We would enjoy him peeling so much, we’d hand him more apples to peel for us.
    Thanks for sharing Ken!! Looks Yummy!

  17. This looks so good I think I will try it as a cabin fever pastry for this weekend. It going to snow up here in my area of the Northeast and we need a little dessert for the weekend. Who knew it was going to snow in October!

  18. I cook and bake a lot and post some of my work on my blog, but I have never made a tart. Why I don’t know! This makes tart making look fun. I may try this with some of the Ozarks fine fall apples.

    The last photo is marvelous! And yes, I agree… cooking and photographing is a trick!

    Best wishes,
    Sarah

  19. YUM! I’m a total hack at pastries, but I love them too much not to try. This recipe looks pretty me-proof, so I’m going to have to give this one a go the next time I feel the urge to bake. Thanks for the tips!

  20. Pingback: Sheet Pan Apple Pie « Happy Domesticity

  21. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I love that it introduced us to your beautiful blog. My husband and I (35 years and counting) enjoying spending time in the kitchen together, too. This Apple Tart looks wonderful. Right now I’m brainstorming ideas for cooking with the grandkids. They are only 21 months old and 7 months old, but I foresee a future of fun in the kitchen with them, sharing and learning together. This would be a great one to try, for example. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Oh, by the way, in the Philippines there are two different condiments made with seafood – fish sauce, and shrimp paste. Both fermented. The fish sauce is comparable to Nuoc Mam – a light colored liquid. Shrimp paste is dark reddish-black with bits of solids mixed in. Both are acquired tastes for Westerners, but I believe they not only add depth of flavor but probably concentrated vitamins goodness.

    • We’re big fans of fish sauce, as you can imagine. It used to be fairly easy to get fermented shrimp paste here – traasi oedang, I it was called – but I haven’t seen it in a long time. And I agree, shrimp paste is a great addition to soup or a sauce for depth. Just don’t tell anyone you put it in. Ken

      • The Philippine version of that is called bagoong. And after my last comment, I looked it up. Sure enough – loaded with nutrients. Also very salty. Which in ancient times was probably a plus, not a minus.

  23. Yum, I will definitely try this out. I’ve always been a fan of apple pie, too lazy to ever actually make one. This’ll be awesome :)
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Also, it’d really help if you checked out my blog, I’m new in town. I have a few posts up there already and I’d love some feedback :)

  24. My wife has the exact same apple peeler, it IS awesome and better yet, the kids love working it. I feel your pain regarding the challenge of shooting and cooking at the same time, which is why you rarely see in-process photos on Oui, Chef. I hardly ever get them when working on a savory dish as there’s too much of a time crunch getting everything ready for the table, but every now and again I’ll shoot a weekend pastry project. All that said, I think you did a great job with these photos, I really like the ones of the peeler.

  25. I love these photos, especially the glistening pastry brush in the first photo. (It’s funny how the apples almost look like pineapples, isn’t it?) I also appreciate that you didn’t hide the bit of patching you did on the crust. I have puff pastry in the freezer and this will be a great use for it. I love this book but hadn’t noticed this recipe somehow. It always makes me laugh when I “discover” a recipe I’ve had sitting around for ages via a great blog post.

    PS I read your bio–as I was reading i was excited to see you were in the area (we live in greater Boston) and then even more excited to see you were the chef behind Rialto! We had a lovely meal there just a few months back and are planning to return soon. Definitely bookmarking this blog.

    • Actually Jody’s the chef/owner of Rialto, not me, but that’s okay. Glad you liked your dinner. I checked out your blog and saw the ZUNI CAFE COOKBOOK referenced in your last post. Judy Rogers beat us for an IACP award (best cookbook of the year ) when we came out with IN THE HANDS OF A CHEF. She’s a great cook. Apropos of looking like pineapple, I used Granny Smith apples in the tart, not my favorite eating apple, but I like their texture and tartness for baking. Both Roxanne and I thought there was a definite “pineapple-y” taste to the tart, probably because of their caramelizing. Jody will be back cooking in the blog next week, although the Lazy Man may put in a return appearance from time to time. Ken

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  27. The dish looks superb! Well done! Not only do I think you have an outstanding cooking ability, but the way you describe the dish in words is enjoyable to read! Each word your write is a detail that contributes to the formulation of the imagery that, as readers, we attempt to establish in our minds. It wasn’t a struggle to envision what you were describing and that is an attribute that readers truly appreciate! My favorite phrase was when you said “gustatory pleasure,” what great diction you have! You are quite the food writer!

    If it is okay with you, I would like to mention my own blog that I just started and share the link with your readers. It’s called Logic Meets Reason and it would be great if you and your readers could comment, subscribe, and take a look at the pieces I have posted! Here is the link: http://www.logicmeetsreason.wordpress.com.

  28. Pingback: Tasty Fall Treat…Lazy Man’s Sheet Pan Apple Tarts | Masters At Travel Blog

  29. Don’t you kind of want to make everything with apples at this time of year? Looks fantastic.
    BTW, our family tradition is to ALWAYS hit Provender after the beach in Little Compton. It’s still a wonderful place, and they make the best PB&Js anywhere.

    Beautiful blog! Thanks for the inspiration! Now I need to go buy a better camera.

    • “…better camera.” Isn’t that always the truth? I’m a big believer in learning how to use what you have (I used an Olympus e-510 for years). But a few days ago I read an article by a photographer whose work I liked and she was saying that first came skill, then came glass. In other words, all things being equal, the better lens is sharper. And good lenses cost a lot of money (at least in the Canon world). Aaaargggh! ;-) Glad to hear Provender’s still doing well. Ken

  30. i L.O.V.E. the apple peeler! i use it to make an apple accordion stuffed with peanut butter! not pretty to eat but SO delicious!

  31. I keep staring at these pictures and I was so inspired by this recipe idea that I based my own tart off of it! You can look at it here: http://hillarykaitlyn.wordpress.com/
    My attempt inspired me again to make some pizzas and a different type of tart, but I want to wait until this tart is gone first (I don’t want to completely inundate everyone I know). : )
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  32. I have an apple peeler like this one and never use it … one piece jumped out and I don’t know where it fits in to put it back. Well, beautiful tart and pictures, love your blog.

  33. First of all, congratulations for being on Freshly Pressed. I am so glad to meet with your blog. Apple and apricot, how much I love them. Your Lazy man’s apple tart fascinated me. seems so beautiful and so delicious. I want to try this recipe. Thank you, with my love, nia

  34. Ken – I probably go through a camera a year just due to dirt build up as I try to document my recipes. Doughs are the worst – my last post was a very wet gnocchi (strangolapreti) yuck. How many times do I stop what I am doing to clean my hands, take a picture, go back to work – oh, there’s another shot…I clean my camera fairly often, but it does take its toll.
    Switch to wine – taking pictures of bottles and glasses is much easier on the camera (although a bit harder on the liver).

    • Hi, Kathy! Good lord, a camera a year! All Canon 5D Mk II’s, I bet. :-) I wouldn’t even consider trying to photograph “priest stranglers” – way too messy if I were the one making them, but incredibly good. Is the recipe up? Send me a link. Ken

      • Ken – here’s the link: http://www.chefbikeski.com/?p=1408. These are Trentino priest stranglers; basically gnocchi made from bread crumbs and spinach – no meat – and the priests supposedly ate so many during days of abstinence that they choked on them. As opposed to Neapolitan strangolapreti (your basic potato gnocchi) or Tuscan/Umbrian/Basilicata strangolapreti – pasta similar to cavatelli, long or short, which I suppose one would wrap around their necks? Interesting common theme here, however…

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  36. I used to have that apple peeler. I loved it, too. Why? Because it did work and it was all mechanical. Not a single microchip on site. Yet…it broke.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  37. I love love love loose, but perfect, recipes like this. Your tart looks so gorgeous! Love the shards of tart picture (placed before ‘Jody’s notes’). I think I will finally defrost the tart dough that has been sitting in my freezer, begging for attention.

  38. I’m in charge of dessert this Thanksgiving and I’m making three pumpkin desserts and didnt think I could add anything else but I’m adding this to my list. People love apple and this looks like a sinch to make! So excited!

    • Wait, you’re making this on Thanksgiving? You don’t have enough to do already? I noticed you didn’t say “three pumpkin pies” – you said “three pumpkin desserts,” which makes me think you’re making ONE pumpkin pie, along with a pumpkin torte and a pumpkin-flavored creme brulee (sorry, I haven’t gotten the accents down on a Mac yet). And you want to add an apple tart to that? I mean, I’m moved, but I’m also a little concerned… let me know how it goes. Ken

  39. Ha, yes I am being ambitious but I love all three I just can’t cut one out! And they are pumpkin pie, pumpkin whoopie pie and pumpkin cake. If you start to feel as ambtitious as me the whoopie pie and cake recipes are posted on my website. Pumpkin-flavored creme brulee was out from the get go; I don’t know how to do the accents either :)

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  46. Fortunately I have just enough apples in the house. I will get busy.
    I think a book with recipes and stories-like the story about preserved lemons-which I had never heard of and which I now have in my fridge. Stories about where you find the recipes and why you include them in your menus and pictures of your restaurant kitchens in action as well as food celebrated – i guess that means food for parties and holidays. I personally like books that have alot of pictures. My daughter agrees. Also I have never seen a really good cook book about portable food. Since I pack lunch all recipes must be good for leftovers. I like having both Ken and Jody as ‘voices’ in the blog: makes it conversational and adds depth. Perhaps you want to continue this in your book?
    One thing that I have noticed from my knitting books is that if you buy a copy of the book you can get an ebook for either free or a reduced price. If you buy only the ebook, then the price is closer to the print edition. Perhaps a monthly or seasonal edition which would allow you to do it by subscription with a book option at the end. I think the key is to have both an internet and a print presence. (There is an app called Paprika that allows participants to browse recipes and creates a shopping list for them. I have heard good things about it. ) Although I love actual books and continue to buy them, there is a huge convenience in being able to download them instantly.
    good luck!
    Martha

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