Apple Time

Thursdays in San Miguel de Allende – at least according to the Mi Vida Italian restaurant here – are pizza days. So on Thursday of this week I was inspired to make a pizza of my own. Not a traditional, savory Italian pizza, but a sweet dessert pizza, an apple pizza tart, from the recipe for it that will appear in my soon-to-be-published book, Sweet Tarts.

Golden Delicious — great for baking

It had to be an apple tart because this is the high season for apples. On Tuesday of this coming week, September 22, autumn will arrive, and for me, AUTUMN spells APPLES.

Fat, orange pumpkins are nice, as are Jack-o-Lanterns, and, here in Mexico, skeletal Catrinas. But for me, the best memories of autumn look and taste like apples: bushel baskets of just-picked McIntoshes from the local farm, freshly pressed cider, my mother’s towering and incomparable apple pies made from Granny Smiths.

It’s true that apples – which originated in Central Asia and have been widely cultivated for thousands of years — appear in grocery stores everywhere these days, year-round, thanks to the global marketplace. But in the northern hemisphere, the peak season for apples is September and October. This stretch of time, to me, is Apple Time.

My apple pizza tart has a backstory, of course, as have all the recipes you’ll find in Sweet Tarts. Here’s that story:

In addition to teaching English and Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico branch in Taos for ten years, I also taught cooking in their Culinary Arts program. In this respect, I’d come full circle: my first experience teaching culinary arts was at the New York Cooking School in the late-1980s. And in both New York and Taos I taught, among other culinary courses, Healthy Cooking.

In my Healthy Cooking classes, I taught techniques for making delicious food that happens also to be “good for you.” Deprivation was not on our menu, because, of course, it doesn’t work. Being creative – finding newer ways to make dishes that are tasty, healthy, and appealing to the whole family – was our highest priority.

One example of this approach was my pizza-style tart, which I unabashedly stole from Mark Bittman of the New York Times. Tarts by nature are half the thickness of pies and therefore half the calories if made from the same ingredients. But this tart is even thinner. The dough is rolled out flat like a huge cookie, the thin-thin slices of apple (or other fruit) are placed in one layer on top, like a flower, a little sugar and butter are drizzled over the surface, and when it’s baked – preferably in a pizza pan — it looks just like a pizza.

My students loved it, and those who were parents of young children reported that it was a hit at home. I think you’d love it too.

I happened to bring with me, when I retired to Mexico, these two, well used, 10-inch pizza pans.
I fit rolled-out sweet pastry into one of the shallow pizza pans.
I slathered the bottom with a thin layer of apple-cinnamon jam, arranged thin apple slices on top, sprinkled the surface with some sugar and dotted it with butter, and then baked it at 400 F. for about 20 minutes.
And here it is, ready to slice and share.

~ ~ ~

Last month my dear friend, actor-director Michael Marotta, in New York did a five-minute YouTube video in his ongoing series “What Would Michael Do?” featuring his adaptation of my fruit-pizza recipe, using fresh, ripe peaches and purchased puff pastry. Please be sure to watch it to see how easy and fun such sweet pizzas are to make:  https://youtu.be/4CI32pN22n0 .

Oh, and stay tuned for the birth announcement for my little Sweet Tarts book — coming soon! — where you’ll find the complete recipe for my apple pizza tart, as well as many others, along with their stories.

33 thoughts on “Apple Time”

  1. Yes…apple time for sure, along with the sight of yellow school buses lumbering along rural roads, shouts from field hockey practice, golden chrysanthemums around the porch, and a warm supper waiting at home – that is apple time to me.

  2. Dear Bon,

    How delicious it looks! And you make it look so simple. Maybe I can finally learn how to work with pastry dough.

    Love,
    Paul

    1. Did you watch Michael’s video, Paul dear? He “cheated” and used purchased puff pastry. His results look sublime! But my new book, Sweet Tarts, gives many pastry dough options and the step-by-step directions (with photos) for making them. Stay tuned! — xx

      1. I watched Michael’s video and immediately pulled out the box of puff pastry from my freezer (that was well past its “best used by….” date) and the almost-over-ripe nectarines and we had fruit ‘pizza’ for dessert that night! Used the second piece of PP in the box a few nights late for plum tart. Thanks for the inspiration, and I’m looking forward to the birth of the new book.

        1. This is thrilling news, Jan! I can’t wait to tell Michael; he’ll be thrilled too. And I’m so glad you’re looking forward to the new book’s birth. You’ll find many of the stories in it rather Taos-centric. Fun!

        2. Excellent! Thanks, Jan, for the endorsement. When Bonnie shared this simple recipe with me, we both agreed it was a #WWMD? no brainer! Happy Autumn!

    1. Yes, Helaine. My first home in NM, in Dixon, was surrounded by old, old apple trees. The fragrance of the apple blossoms in the spring was intoxicating. But the apples themselves were ugly, wormy, and inedible. Ah, there’s a story there! 🙂

      1. Yes. She asked my opinion in a couple of places so I’ve been able to get a couple of glimpses. Can’t wait to see it in print! I’ll be buying some for gifts for friends/family who bake.

  3. I am inspired and anxious to see/order your book on tarts…one of my favorite pastry vehicles to use seasonal fruits. I learned the French style technique many years ago, and you are absolutely right, once mastered with good recipes and fruit, it is an endless source of delicious treats.
    Sounds like you are having way too much fun with this new “baby”

    1. Thank you, dear Theresa, for your immense supportiveness and encouragement. You’re right — this new “baby” (which will be born SOON!) has been giving me tremendous pleasure and hope. I’m hoping readers and followers-of-the-recipes will feel the same joy in making my sweet tarts.

  4. I am a novice at finding my way on the computer. Maybe this is the wrong space to comment on the publication Farmerette. I read everyone, they are gentle yet tough stories of the challenge and joys of rural life. Sometimes I felt as if I wanted to do my life over again in Vermont for instance. I lived in the Adirondacks for a decade in the 1950s. I had farmer friends over in Westport who had a dairy farm. All 5 of the boys left home as they were fed up with the routine of milking the cows. One of the writers recommended diversity which might lessen the drudgery of even machine milking. I hope she wins her election as a representative . I’d vote for a Smith graduate any day! The story about the smart weasels was touching. I read them all yesterday-couldn’t stop. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for writing, Betse. I’m thrilled to hear from you! I’ll also forward your note to Crystal Sands, the editor of the new journal Farmer-ish because I know she’ll be equally happy to hear from you too. Best wishes, Bonnie

Leave a Comment