Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Free Form Mini Apple Tarts

This week Edy and I had two "Bacon" days.  We had our usual baking day on Tuesday and then on Wednesday we got to bake with all of her classmates, as I was the parent helper in her preschool class.

This was the first time cooking with this group of kids so I planned a snack that was primarily assembly.   Cooking with a group of young 3 year old kids always requires a lot of advanced prep and flexibility, but I have learned that the first project of the year requires even more prep, flexibility and patience.  As the kids get more comfortable cooking during class I will let them do more and more, but for this one we kept it pretty simple by making free form apple tarts.

Edy and I prepped the dough the day before.  We made a simple Pate Brisee (pie crust) which is one of those great hands on recipes for kids.  They get lots of opportunities to feel the ingredients come together and even if they play with the dough a lot it is hard for them to over mix it.

After we made the dough and let it chill I broke it into individual balls and flattened them out into small discs and left it to chill again until the next day when we were ready to use it at school.  I had planned on having the kids roll the dough out, but I had forgotten to bring some extra flour and the dough was pretty moist, so I decided to have the kids press the dough between their hands instead.  This worked well.  It provided a thicker base for them to work on and eliminated the frustration that sometimes comes with rolling out dough.

For the topping I had a bowl of diced apples, raisins - that had been soaked in apple juice, chopped pecans and cinnamon sugar.  I thought the kids would load up on the apples, but as often happens I completely misjudged and the raisins turned out to be the popular item.  A few kids even skipped the apples and just had raisin tarts with cinnamon sugar.

As always I had a hard time not adjusting the tarts after the kids were done.  I wanted to add some apples to those raisin tarts and wanted to flatten the dough on the tarts that were just balls with apples stuck in it.  As hard as it is the resist the temptation to help them too much and have them do it my way, the pride on their faces when they sit down to the snack they made, makes it worth it.

Free Form Apple Tarts
makes:  12 mini tarts

1 recipe Pate Brisee
4 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans or walnuts roughly chopped
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350
Divide dough into 12 equal size pieces, form into small discs and chill for 30 minutes.  After chilling roll dough in to 1/2" thick rounds, forming a thick lip around the outside edge.  Top each round with apples, raisins and nuts. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until dough is a light golden brown.

Pate Brisee
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, cold cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. cold milk

Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand, combine flour sugar and salt.  Scatter butter pieces over top of flour mixture.  Mix mixture resembles a coarse sand.  In a small bowl whisk together yolks and milk.  Ad to the flour mixture, mix until the dough just comes together and has a shaggy appearance.  Pour onto work surface, using the palm of your hand smear the butter chunks into the dough and gather mixture together.  Gather dough into a thick disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Can be kept in refrigerator for at least 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.