In the past year or so, I’ve learned something important about cooking. Just because a recipe doesn’t turn out exactly the way it’s supposed to or you have a last minute ingredients crisis doesn’t mean you’re a bad cook. Instead, I would argue the opposite – I think you’re a better cook if you can embrace the challenges and capitalize on failures in the kitchen.
Case in point: these mini apple tarts. The orchard we went to on Sunday (first mentioned here) had a serious lack of apples… it was weird. I managed to get about five apples, came home, and realized that the only flour I had (bread flour) wasn’t ideal for the crust of the hand pies I’d been thinking about. After some googling, I ended up using this pie crust recipe, subbing the bread flour for the all-purpose. I was left with a pretty dry, gritty ball of dough… not ideal for the hand pies. Apparently bread flour makes things really doughy and tough. I instead decided to make doughy little apple pies/tarts using a muffin tin. And they turned out great! Fall is just beginning, so there will be many more proper apple pies in my future. Let’s take this as a sign that improvisation can be a good thing and there’s (almost) nothing a little cinnamon and sugar can’t fix!
Mini Apple Tarts
Makes approximately 10 tarts
– 1 cup bread flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
– 2 tablespoons cold water
– 2 large apples, peeled and diced (I honestly don’t know what kind I had because we were scavenging the trees for whatever we could find! Golden Delicious is supposed to be delicious (ha) though…)
– juice from 1/2 a lemon
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1 tablespoon water
– 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
For crust: Combine flour + salt in medium bowl. Cut in vegetable shortening until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle with water and blend until mixture sticks together. It’ll be quite coarse but will hold together. Shape into a ball.
For filling: Combine apples, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice, and water until apples are thoroughly coated.
Breaking ball of dough into small handfuls, press each handful into the bottom of each “muffin” in the tin. Reserve a small handful for the topping.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of apple filling onto each crust. Pour any leftover sugary mixture evenly over the “muffins” and gently crumble about a teaspoon of leftover dough over each “muffin” (this is your “crust”) until dough is used up.
Bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before removing pies and cooling on wire rack.
Photos by Monica Dutia