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Apple Crumb Tarts

makes 6 5-inch tarts

Homely (not unattractive but a good old-fashioned usage) and friendly to serve warm or at room temperature. Heavy cream—unwhipped—or ice cream would be an extra treat.

This recipe is part of The Barbara Kafka Dessert Anthology.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold
4 tablespoons cold water, or as needed

5 medium-sized pie apples, such as Greening or Northern Spy, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
Lemon juice

Crumb topping
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold


prep: 35 minutes
total: 3 hours 20 minutes, includes 2+ hours chilling


2 medium bowls
board (for kneading and rolling dough)
kitchen towel
rolling pin
baking sheet
small bowl



1. In a medium-sized bowl stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour and sugar until the entire mixture resembles small flakes. Set the bowl in the refrigerator and chill 20 minutes.

2. Remove the chilled flour and shortening from the refrigerator. Sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons cold water and toss with a fork. Continue to add small amounts of water and toss until the mixture just holds together.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board. Knead very briefly until the dough forms a ball. Wrap in a clean towel. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

4. Remove the chilled pastry dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/16-inch. Using a sharp knife, cut 6 4- to 5-inch circles from the dough. Pierce each circle at 1/2-inch intervals with a fork. Arrange them on a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each circle. Refrigerate on the baking sheet until needed.

Crumb topping

5. Mix the brown sugar and flour together in a small bowl. Cut the butter into the sugar and flour until the mixture resembles small pebbles. Refrigerate until needed.


6. In a bowl, toss the sliced apples with lemon juice. Arrange overlapping apple slices on top of each pastry circle to form an attractive pattern. Lightly dot the apples with crumb topping. Bake at 400°F about 10 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp and the apples are tender. Serve hot accompanied with pitcher of heavy cream.

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