The Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, adjunct culinary instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta
The backstory Overcooked turkeys and prickly relatives can put a holiday dinner on edge, but nothing comforts a crowd like a warm pie. If you don’t have time to deal with a lattice top or crimped edges, Booker has a solution in this elegant, free-form tart adapted from one in her book, Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent, which came out in September. Instead of pressing the dough into a pan, she sets it on a baking sheet, heaps freshly sliced fruit in the middle, then folds the edges around it to contain the juices. Looking for decadence? Swap out the butter for lard. Booker suggests using premade dough if you’re short on time.
For the pastry dough
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons cold water
For the filling
1 cup dark brown sugar
4–5 medium apples (such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith), peeled if desired, cored, and sliced (keep covered in water mixed with a little lemon juice to prevent browning)
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup water
For the garnish
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ cup chopped, toasted pecans
Instructions Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the water a tablespoon at a time and stir until the mixture forms a loose ball. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (up to 2 days).
In a large bowl, combine the apples and brown sugar; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries and water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until cranberries are plump and tender. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and drain, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid. Add cranberries and reserved liquid to the apple mixture, and stir to combine.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and roll out on lightly floured parchment paper into a 12-inch round disc. Brush away the excess flour, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Next, spoon the apple mixture into the center of the tart round and fold dough edges up around the fruit, leaving a 6-inch circle of exposed fruit in the center.
Brush dough edges with the egg mixture, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the fruit mixture is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool. Dust powdered sugar on the crust, and sprinkle chopped pecans on the fruit in the center.
Makes 8 servings.
This article originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.