Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thin French Apple Tart

Sometimes, it is so easy to be vegan these days it almost feel too easy - do you know what I mean? Vegan ice cream, vegan whipped cream, vegan hot dogs... it's hard to imagine we're missing anything! Alas, sometimes the vegan does run about against the elusive ingredient that reminds her it still takes a bit of extra work to eat ethically.

Tonight, the culprit was refrigerated pie dough. A time-saver for this delicious and easy tart, pre-made pie crust would normally not be a problem. Two companies that I know of - Wholly Wholesome and Whole Foods' 365 brand - make frozen pie crusts fitted into 9-inch pie plates, which are vegan and ready to go.

That, alas, was the problem, since this recipe called for a pre-made pie crust to be rolled into a 12-inch circle. The only available option on the market seems to be Pillsbury's refrigerated pie crust, but step far back, because it is not vegan. This product contains lard, which, ugh, sounds like exactly what it is - a hunk of pig fat - which is so repulsive a thought I probably wouldn't eat it even if I ate steak.

Luckily, it's not too hard to whip up a pie crust at home, and only adds about 10 minutes to your total time for this recipe. You may have to sacrifice a tiny bit of convenience, but you're saving the animals.

So to make a quick crust, spoon one cup all-purpose flour into a measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine in a bowl with 1/4 tsp. salt. Cut in 2 tablespoons chilled vegan butter, cut into small pieces (such as Earth Balance), and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening - try the one from Earth Balance as well, which is certified vegan. Use a pastry blender if you have one for best results, but in a pinch, two knives or the back of a fork will do.

Combine 3 tablespoons ice water and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a bowl (don't forget - ice water is exactly what it sounds like: cold water with ice cubes added to chill the temperature way down). Add the water mixture to the flour mixture one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until moist. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a 4-inch circle. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. (Note: I needed to add one more tablespoon of ice water than specified, to keep my dough from being too crumbly).

Here's where you pick up where the original recipe begins! Whlie your crust is chilling, combine 1/4 cup raw sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.

Peel, core, and very thinly slice 2 pounds of Golden Delicious apples (about 4 large ones). If you have a paring knife, this a great time to use it to make quick work of the apple peels. A vegetable peeler works just as well, if you don't. Set the apple slices aside.

Remove your dough from the fridge and roll into a 12-inch circle in between sheets of plastic wrap; fit into a 12-inch round pizza pan, removing the plastic wrap. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar mixture. Top with the apple slices, working in a spoke-like pattern from the outside in (see photo for reference). Sprinkle the apples with the remaining sugar mixture.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

In a small skillet, combine 2 and 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar (in place of honey) with 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Heat over low heat for about a minute until warmed. (Note: you could also do this in the microwave for about 40 seconds if you have one, which I do not). Drizzle over the tart while it's still warm. The tart is best served warm - cut into 8 wedges of 220 calories each.

vegetable shortening $3.39
ground cinnamon $3.99
Golden Delicious apples $3.26

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance