Gravensteins? You Gotta Make a Bon Appetit Tart … but, Sorry! Mom Won’t Share her Secret Recipe Modification
Sometimes I need to break away from restaurants, chefs, food trends to get back home to where my Foodie roots began. My Dad recently emailed me about my Mom’s Apple Tart, saying:
This is your mother’s best effort so far. It is her Gravenstein Apple Tart. Once you’ve tried this, nothing else comes close. Just the right Deathbed dessert to top off your favorite Deathbed Meal.
Mom’s Gravenstein Apple Tart – what? There’s some missing already?
While I wasn’t able to try this myself, I’ll take my Dad’s word for it since he’s the F.
So, what makes it so good? I’m told it’s the Gravenstein apples which are, apparently, very hard to find. In the Bay Area, they are found near the town of Sebastopol in County. They have a unique apple flavor not found in any other variety – juicy and tartly sweet (or sweetly tart) as the New York Times put it recently, with many feeling they are the absolute best apple for pie.
Photo: NY Times.
Interestingly, the Gravenstein apple may be in a struggle to survive due to another popular crop in Sonoma: grapes – which are far more profitable to produce (wine grapes were the No. 1 crop in 2010, valued at about $390 million, while the Gravenstein were No. 13, with only $1.7 million). Gravenstein farmers and fans are concerned, launching a counteroffensive to “save the Gravenstein,” – with the Slow Food movement leading the effort.
Paula Shatkin, the coordinator of the project to save the Gravenstein, noted in the NY Times article that Gravenstein apples don’t travel or age well and that they’re “kind of ephemeral” … reminds me of Pinot Noir (a fragile grape so nicely described in Sideways). Which may be a problem as consumers are much more likely to pay a premium for wine rather than for apples.
Gravenstein Orchard, Sebastopol (Photo: NY Times)
So, in my effort to help save the Gravenstein, I offer this recipe from Bon Appetit (February, 2000) which was originally designed to use the Golden Delicious. My parents felt it’s worth driving over an hour to Sonoma to get the Gravenstein for this recipe instead! They’re doing their part … how about you?
Please note: My Mom tells me that she “modified” it but can’t share that … I was SHOCKED since she’s normally the absolutely most gracious, generous human being ever. Oh well, I guess great cooks and bakers are like that. Still, you should have a good base with this. For Internet savvy bakers, the recipe is also on epicurious here.
“Warm Cinnamon Apple Tart with Currants”
- 2 TBS. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
- 8 TBS. Apricot Preserves
- 1 Golden Delicious apple (my Mom uses Gravenstein if possible) – peeled, cored and very thinly sliced
- 2 TBS. fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 TBS. butter
- Dried currants
- Vanilla ice cream
- Position oven racks in the middle of the oven, preheat to 400 degrees.
- Mix 2 TBS. sugar and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Unfold thawed puff pastry on lightly floured baking sheet.
- Brush some of the egg glaze over 1″ border of pastry on all sides.
- Fold 1″ border over to form raised edge on all sides. Press to adhere.
- Using sharp knife, make 1/2″ long cuts all around the pastry edge facing 1/2″ apart.
- Pierce center of pastry all over with a fork, not the edge.
- Spread 2 TBS. of apricot preserves over center of pastry.
- Arrange apple slices atop apricot preserves in 3 rows, overlapping apples and fitting tightly together.
- Brush pastry edge with some of the egg glaze.
- Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over apples and pastry edge.
- Bake tart until apples are tender and pastry is brown – about 30 minutes.
- Transfer to rack.
- Mix remaining 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, remaining 6 TBS. apricot preserves, 2 TBS. fresh lemon juice and 1 1/2 TBS. butter in small sauce pan.
- Stir apricot sauce over medium heat until melted and hot.
- Lightly dab some of apricot sauce over apples.
- Sprinkle with dried currants.
- Cut warm tart into 4 squares. Top each square with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Drizzle remaining apricot sauce over ice cream and serve.
Let me know if you make it … and if you tried the Gravenstein. Let’s save the Gravenstein!