Rustic Apple Tarts with Oatmeal Crumble Topping

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I’ve written the recipe to yield 2 tarts because I would never go to the trouble to make dough for just 1 tart. If you only want to make one apple tart, however,  simply halve the apple filling and the crumble topping and freeze the second dough for later. The dough recipe has only a bit of sugar, so you can use it make a savory tart, if you like.



Pie Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) palm- and coconut oil-based shortening (I used Nutiva brand), frozen

Up to 1/2 cup ice water


3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt 

4 pounds crisp, firm apples, such as Granny Smith, cored, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick (a heaping 12 cups)

4 tablespoons plant-based butter spread (I use Earth Balance)

2 tablespoons cornstarch 

2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumble Topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons plant-based butter spread, melted but not hot


For the Pie Dough, mix flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Cut shortening into ½-inch pieces, a process that will produce a mix of chunks and shards. Scatter shortening pieces over the flour mixture, tossing with a little of the flour to coat. Process until the rumbling noise from the processing shortening ceases. Turn mixture into a large bowl.

Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of water over the mixture. Using a fork, stir mixture until small clumps start to form. With the palm of the hand, start to press down on the mixture, flicking in more water if necessary, until dough comes together. Form dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic, and then flatten each into a 4-inch wide disc. (Can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for several months.)

For the Filling, mix sugar, cinnamon and salt; toss with apples. Heat butter spread in a large (11- to 12-inch), deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple mixture; cover and cook until apples soften and release their juices about 7 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until juices thicken to light syrup consistency, 1 to 2 minutes longer. 

Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch, brandy, and vanilla in 1 cup of water; stir into apple mixture until it thickens, less than a minute. Transfer apples to a jelly roll pan to cool quickly; refrigerate or set in a cool place until apples are room temperature. (Can be covered and refrigerated several days.)

For the Crumble Topping, mix flour, oatmeal, sugar, and cinnamon; stir in butter with a fork until well combined. Use hands to form clumps. 

About 30 minutes before baking, remove dough rounds from refrigerator. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and low positions and heat oven to 400 degrees. Working one at a time, set one of the dough rounds on a sheet of parchment and roll it into an 11-inch circle, sprinkling with flour, if necessary, to keep the dough from sticking to the pin.  Slide parchment with rolled dough onto a large lipless cookie sheet. Spoon half the apple filling onto the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Bring pie dough over filling, pleating it to fit. Sprinkle half the crumble topping over filling. 

Repeat process with remaining dough, filling, and crumble. Bake until golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes, turning tarts around and trading rack positions as necessary to ensure even browning.  Cool slightly, serve warm. (Can be made several hours and heat and warmed in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes.)