Keep New Times Free

AndyTalk: The Anatomy of a Tart, Or, I'm Not a Lazy Cook, I Just Don't Want to Go to the Store

I'm headed to a neighbor's for dinner, and I want to bring something besides a bottle of wine. I want to bring dessert. I have apples, and I tell myself that I should be able to make a pie. So what if it's only 3 apples, and I don't have any flour? I don't want to drive to the store for ingredients. If Audrey Hepburn could turn soda crackers into a soufflé in Humphrey Bogart's office (in Sabrina) then I can turn three apples into a worthy dessert. My self-set pie challenge is a sort of culinary Sudoku -- at least in the small world where kitchens and black-and-white Hollywood merge.

Making do with ingredients on hand is often the inspiration for what turn out to be my favorite recipes. In addition to apples, I have both granulated and confectioner's sugar, butter, brandy, and pretzels. That's really not enough for a pie, but it is more than enough to make an apple tart .

Specifically, I had the ingredients to make what I'm now calling an Apple Tart with a Sweet Pretzel Crust.

The crust for a tart needs to be as good as a cookie. Since the layer of fruit on most tarts is relatively thin, the crust is half of the dessert. The pretzels I cobbled together with butter and sugar made a killer crust. In Minnesota I think they'd call it a "keeper." It had the crumbly consistency of a good graham cracker crust, but it also had salt.

Salt, sugar, and fat are the trinity of flavor (or the three prongs of the devil's trident if you're a dietician). I love a dessert that has salty overtones, and this crust is about as salty as Toll House cookies made with salted butter (per the classic recipe). There's a shot of brandy in the crust as well. It adds depth of flavor, and it helps bind the ingredients.

The apples are tossed in melted butter and then tossed again in 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar with a little ground nutmeg.

Press the dough into the tart pan, and then sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Add 2 layers of apple slices. The first layer of apple slices is arranged with the apples running parallel to the side of the pan (the apples form concentric circles). The second layer is made of apples fanned out around the edge and in the center (see pic of finished art at top). If the apple layers go in different directions, you'll minimize gaps that often appear when the apples shrink in the oven. If you do the center circle last, the tart will look its best.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

The rest of the confectioner's sugar goes on top. The sugar melts right away, but in the oven it caramelizes and gives the tart a warm amber sheen.

I love it when an off-the-cuff recipe exceeds my expectations. When the recipe is an apple tart, the good feeling is accompanied by a kitchen smelling of sweet of success.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

Follow Chow Bella on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.