Receipe: A Vegan & Gluten-Free Apple Tart That Does Not Taste Like Cardboard

My office team had an afternoon potluck for our holiday party. Hey, I work for a non-profit.  No fancy dinners or alcohol for us.  Whah whah.   There is another gluten-free person and a vegan on the team, so I opted to make something that would be both vegan and gluten-free.

This tart is so good you will not realize that it is both gluten-free and vegan.  My husband tried some of the excess crust that I baked off to check that the crust did not take like cat food.  He liked it. Husband doesn’t mind the gluten-free business so much: he likes seeing me not looking like a pallid zombie, but losing diary too?  He was just a little unsure that a tasty dessert can be made sans gluten and animal products. But this crust worked out just fine; he didn’t even realize it was vegan.  It tastes like a sugar cookie.

If you are just learning to bake gluten-free,  tart crust is an easy thing to start with because the dough does not have to rise.  It is expected to be a little dense and flaky, which makes it easier to get the correct texture sans gluten and dairy.

Equipment:

11” Tart pan

Large baking sheet, preferably rimmed

Food processor

Crust:

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup rice flour – either white or brown

1/4 cup sorghum flour or coconut flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour / starch (they are the same thing), cornstarch could also be used

8 Tbsp cold, vegan butter cut into large pieces*

1 tsp xanthan gum

* I use Nature’s Promise and just measure it out of the tub with a tablespoon.  There are a lot of vegan butter products available, including Crisco, but beware of ingredients like “natural flavoring” or “hydrogenated oil”, which may contain gluten, Crisco certifies that if their products are both gluten-free and casein-free.  Check Only Sometimes Clever’s blog post about Crisco.

Tart filling:

About 6 large apples peeled and thinly sliced, I used pink ladies and macintosh

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp melted vegan butter or canola oil

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp clove

2 Tbsp cornstarch

Glaze:

Trader Joe’s Cranberry Apple Butter, about 1/3 – 1/2 a jar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 °F / 180 °C.  Make sure a rack is on the bottom 1/3 of the oven.

2. Grease and flour the tart pan.  I use a pastry brush to spread out a little canola oil and then dust with rice flour.

Left: prepping the pan Middle: the texture of the flour mixture Right: flour mix pressed into the pan

3 In the food processor, combine the sugar, starch, flour and xanthan gum.  Pulse.

4. One tablespoon at a time, drop in the vegan butter.  Pulse briefly between each addition.  The mixture will start to come together and resemble coarse cornmeal.

5. Put the flour mixture into the tart pan.  Using the bottom of a glass as a tool, press the flour mixture into the bottom of the pan.  The glass will help you to get a smoother bottom for your tart and press the flour in more firmly.

6. Blind bake the crust for 10 -15 minutes in the oven, just long enough for it to start to brown.  Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.  I usually put the pan on a larger rimmed baking sheet, just in case any juices leak through and creating a smoky, gooey mess on the bottom of the oven.

7. Peel and thinly slice the apples.

8. In a large bowl, combine the spices, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and butter.  Add the apples and toss to coat.

Left: coating the apple slices Right: the tart in the oven, I forgot to glaze at first, so I took a picture and then immediately removed from the oven to correct myself

9. Getting as fancy-pants or plain as you like, arrange the apple slices in the tart pan.  I try to arrange the first layer around the outer edge, then stick the broken up pieces of apple in the center of the pan.  I then do a circle of apples on top, just to make it look pretty.

10. Using a pastry brush, gently daub the Trader Joe’s Cranberry-Apple Butter on the top of the fruit.  This is my quick and easy replacement gelée, that jelly like stuff you normally see on top of tarts, which keeps the fruit in place and adds sheen / prevents discoloration.  The cranberry apple butter won’t keep the apples in place, but it will help to keep them from becoming shriveled during baking or discoloring afterwards.

11. Bake for 60 minutes.

Mmmm. Tasty.

This is best when stored in the fridge.  It should last up to a week.

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