I've always had a really good memory. Even as a little girl, I would play the game Memory and clear the board after only a few rounds (O.K., my parents probably let me win a few times, but I was still pretty good.) When it was time for the games at birthday parties, I smiled when the birthday girl's mom would emerge from the house with a tray of assorted objects, pads of paper, and pencils. Aha! We're going to play the memory game! I've sooo got this prize locked up! (In case you don't know, the aforementioned memory game involves letting the party guests study the tray for a few minutes before taking it away. The guests then need to write down as many objects as they can remember.)
Throughout my life I've remembered countless little bits of information, some of which are very useful, but many which have absolutely no business taking up space in my brain. I mean, is it really necessary to know all of the lyrics to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire?" An impressive talent in a karaoke bar, perhaps, but that's about it. Sometimes I'll get a bit overconfident of my recollection abilities, telling myself "No, you don't need to write that down--you'll remember." But then I forget. Serves me right.
When I am struggling with ideas for my blog posts (no, this stuff doesn't just pop into my head), I often refer to a fun little site called Brownielocks, which lists hundreds of annual holidays, both official and non-official. For example, yesterday was not just January 26th, it was Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day--and who doesn't appreciate good bubble wrap? As I scan the list of holidays and observances each month, a few usually catch my eye as potential inspiration for a blog post. Such was the case with National Pie Day (Ah! I'll post a pie or tart that day!) which occurred on January 23rd. Four days ago. I told myself that I'd remember, but I forgot. Like I said, serves me right. Next month, I'll write them down.
Despite the fact that I missed National Pie Day, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that pie is special enough to deserve its own week. In fact, most people I know would gladly accept a slice any day of the year. While this recipe is really a tart, most cookbooks will classify the two desserts in the same chapter, and it still consists of a buttery crust holding a scrumptious filling. I personally prefer tarts to pies, as I like a denser, almost cookie-like crust as opposed to a flaky pie crust. Tarts are also neater to serve, and they don't contain quite so much filling. Instead of an upper crust, this tart is topped with a buttery nutty streusel. Who doesn't love a good streusel? Here are my extra tips for preparing this streusel-topped tart:
- The crust dough can be prepared one day in advance. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate until ready to roll out. The streusel can also be prepared one day in advance and refrigerated.
- If the streusel topping starts to become to dark during the baking process, cover it loosely with aluminum foil for the remainder.
- Instead of using dried cranberries, use a mixture of dark and golden raisins, chopped dried figs, or tart dried cherries. The walnuts can be replaced with pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts.
- The tart can be served shortly after taking it out of the oven, however, I recommend letting it sit and cool for at least one hour. This allows the filling to firm up a bit, making it easier to cut and present nicely.
- As an alternative to Granny Smith Apples, try tart Pippins or use a combination of sweet and tart apples, such as Golden Delicious and Granny Smith varieties.
Apple-Cranberry Tart with Walnut Streusel
For the crust
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
For the streusel
¾ cup flour
½ cup golden brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
½ cup chopped walnuts
For the filling
4 cups thinly sliced cored and peeled Granny Smith apples
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup dried cranberries
Prepare the crust: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined and smooth. Add the egg and the egg yolk, and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing until combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the streusel: In a medium bow, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in the walnuts until all ingredients are well combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 325F degrees.
Prepare the filling: In a large bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and flour; toss to coat. Stir in the vanilla extract and the cranberries until well combined.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the chilled dough out to a circle large enough to fit a 10-inch tart pan (12-13 inches). Transfer the dough to the 10-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Trim the edge of the dough so that it is flush with the rim of the pan; discard scraps.
Transfer the apple filling to the crust and sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the filling, pressing lightly to adhere. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling has started to bubble. Cool for 1 hour and serve.