I can't remember where I came across this dessert, but it's been with me for years. The brown butter filling is delightful because it works with apples, pears, cherries, berries — whatever fruit is in season, and you have on hand. It's flexible that way. But there's more — this sweetie is also really great the next morning for breakfast! YES, there are a lot of steps to this one, but it's all pretty easy and very impressive. Accept it and move on — this will earn you a lot of kudos. The apple of my pie!
Technique tip: You can make the crust the day before.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 1 pinch salt
- 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) cold butter, cut into pea-size pieces
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
For the crust:
In the food processor, combine the flour and salt. Pulse once to combine. Add the butter and pulse, pulse, pulse until the mix looks like grated Parmigiano cheese. Add the egg yolk and half the ice water and pulse, pulse, pulse again until the mixture forms a rough ball. If the mix seems dry, add the remaining ice water and pulse again.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using the heel of your hand, schmear the dough forward and then roll it back towards you to where it started. Repeat this process 2 more times. Do not rotate the dough while you do this — always work in the same direction. If you rotate the dough it will start to get tough, rather than crisp. Form the ball into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
For the filling:
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook until it starts to turn brown and smells like hazelnuts.
Transfer the brown butter to a medium mixing bowl, then add the sugar and vanilla, and beat with a hand beater or standing mixer (I use them interchangeably). Gradually beat in the flour. When the flour is combined, beat in the egg. Reserve.
For the apples:
Toss the butter into a large sauté pan and bring the pan to medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbly, add the apples and sugar and cook for 6 to 7 minutes or until the apples start to soften.
Pull the pan off the burner and add the brandy. You want to do this at the front of the pan and then tip it into the flame. It's fun! If you have an electric stove, this part won't work (sorry!). Either way, cook the brandy until it reduces, and the apple mixture is no longer soupy. Turn off the heat and stir in the raisins and let the mixture cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.2.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temp for 15 minutes before using.3.
Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough out in circle about 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick. Lay the dough in a 12-inch false bottom tart pan. There will be lots of dough that hangs over the sides — this is what you want.4.
Pour the reserved filling in the bottom of the dough-lined tart pan and spread it out in an even layer.5.
Spoon the apples into the pan on top of the filling and spread them out into an even layer. Fold the dough draped over the sides in and over the top of the apples (you will still see some of the apples and filling — it should look rustic!). Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a little bit crispy.