not perfect, and a recipe for apple tart

apple tart | the merry gourmet

I am not perfect.

My temper is sometimes short, and I don’t have much patience. I am stubborn, and I like to be right. (I get these traits from my father.)

Even though I love to bake cakes, I rely on store-bought birthday cakes because they’re easy. Also, I think Publix makes the best frosting. It’s so sweet it makes my teeth hurt, and I love it. I’ve been told that I don’t want to know what Publix puts in that frosting. It’s true. I don’t. But serve me up a slice, and I’ll contemplate a second, but only if I can have an end piece, with extra frosting.

My children eat cereal for breakfast nearly every morning. On weekends, I’ll sometimes make scrambled eggs and toast for the kids, because toast and eggs are easy. But even though my son loves bacon, I don’t often make it. It seems to take too long (I know that it really doesn’t), and I don’t like taking greasy bacon out of the package. It feels disgusting. Also, I’m lazy on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I’d rather someone make me breakfast.

I drink my coffee – just one cup – with skim milk and Splenda. I know I shouldn’t use Splenda. I’ve read the negative press. I plan to stop using it, but not today, and probably not tomorrow either. On weekends, I splurge with fat-free vanilla Coffee Mate. I love the idea of cream and sugar in my coffee, but I tell myself I can’t justify the fat and calories.

I often dread cooking weeknight dinners. At the end of the workday, all I want to do is sit on my front porch and read a magazine. Or sit on the sofa and catch up with social media and blog reading and the days’ news. Or watch television with my kids. I just don’t want to be on my feet anymore.

Despite my exhaustion (or laziness), we still eat dinner together most nights. We just eat simply, never anything fancy. And sometimes, on a Friday or Saturday night, we all eat in front of the television instead of at the dining room table.

I rely on my slow cooker at least two nights per week, and leftovers usually cover another two nights. When leftovers don’t sound appetizing, we order takeout Chinese or burritos. On Friday nights, we often order takeout pizza. I make a darn good pizza with a fantastic homemade crust, and now that we’ve been using the baking steel on the Big Green Egg, our pizzas are even better. But on Friday nights, I just don’t have the energy.

I am really just a weekend cook, no matter how it looks here in cyberspace.

I don’t always buy organic or locally grown, and I confess that I have judged someone for using pancake syrup rather than maple syrup. I also confess that I grew up using pancake syrup and never owned a bottle of maple syrup until about 5 years ago. We also still have a half-empty bottle of Aunt Jemima in the pantry.

I am trying not to be so judgmental. It’s something I’m working on.

I am not perfect, but I am working on being a better person. I intend to be better.

I made this apple tart this weekend, and I wanted it to look perfect. It doesn’t. I tried slicing the apples using my mandoline. When I realized that I was going to slice off a finger, I gave up and switched to using a knife. I tried arranging the (uneven) apple slices into a beautiful, perfect rosette. When that failed, I simply stuck apple slices into the tart wherever I thought they’d look best.

We ate this tart during our weekly family movie night. This week’s movie was Beetlejuice. It’s rated PG, so we thought it would be a perfect choice, appropriately Halloween-themed. There is one f-word, about two-thirds of the way in. When we heard it, my husband and I looked at each other, eyes wide, and then we looked at the kids to see if they noticed. Their mouths were full of warm apple tart and vanilla ice cream, and they laughed at the next funny part in the movie. I smiled at them, and at my husband, and I took another bite of my not-so-perfect apple tart.

Yield: 8 servings.

Apple Tart

You could make things easy on yourself and use a store-bought rolled pie crust for this recipe, but I think it's more fun to make the dough from scratch. It's messier, for sure, but occasionally it's okay to get messy. If you're talented with the mandoline, feel free to slice your apples very thinly on that device. Otherwise, just use a sharp knife and a steady hand, like I did.


Ingredients for Crust:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled & diced
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Ingredients for Filling:

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples (about 6 apples), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup apricot jam


Make Crust:

Combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse until blended. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolk, pulse a few times, and then add heavy cream. Pulse until moist clumps form. Turn dough out onto a work surface, gather into a ball, and press into a disk shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

Prepare Filling:

Whisk together the light brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Toss with the sliced apples until evenly coated.

Assemble Tart:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 13-inch circle. Transfer the dough to an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim the overhang even with the top of pan sides. Arrange apple slices in a circular pattern in the pan (or, if you get frustrated, just spread them out evenly in the pan). Dot the top of the apples with the diced tablespoon of butter.

Bake tart until the apples are tender, about 65-70 minutes. Remove from oven. Heat apricot jam in a small saucepan. Strain jam through a fine-mesh sieve and discard solids. Brush top of tart gently with the warm apricot jam. Let tart cool to room temperature, then cut into wedges and serve.

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19 Responses to “not perfect, and a recipe for apple tart”

  1. 1
    Paula — October 27, 2014 @ 7:30 am

    Perfection is highly over-rated and unattainable, though it is good that we strive for it in some aspects of our lives, personalities. I love that you are so honest and I’ll take truth over perfection any day. The apple tart…simply beautiful.

  2. 2
    Jen Schall — October 27, 2014 @ 8:17 am

    No one is perfect… It’s a ridiculous standard to live up to. I love that you are honest and open about it. If you were perfect, I probably wouldn’t read your blog… I mean, really, who wants to read about someone who’s perfect all the time. Right? 🙂

    I think the same goes for pies and tarts… They are rarely perfect, and I often prefer them to have their quirks. I think yours looks just lovely… And, I’m sure it tastes even better!

    • 2.1
      Merry-Jennifer — October 29, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

      I completely agree with you on the perfection bit. It’s true – those perfect people drive me crazy. 😉

  3. 3
    Mallory+@forkvsspoon — October 27, 2014 @ 9:12 am

    I like how you are striving to be better…not perfect, just better. It seems doable. Thanks for being so honest and open! Apple tart looks amazing and when the slices aren’t evenly matched up, I insert the word – rustic. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe – a gem!

  4. 4
    Jennifer — October 27, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

    I could’ve written this…word for word. Except for the Splenda, just because I don’t like it. And the pizza crust, because my homemade pizza crust sucks.

    Your apple tart is gorgeous, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • 4.1
      Merry-Jennifer — October 29, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

      You’ll be proud of me – I’ve gone without Splenda for two days now, despite the fact that I said I wouldn’t.

  5. 5

    I appreciate this honest discussion of perfection and expectations. I think we need less perfection and mandolin slicers, and more confidence and experimentation. Thank you for this!

    • 5.1
      Merry-Jennifer — October 29, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

      Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Ksenia!

  6. 6

    this is real life MJ..and you put those into words so perfectly. inspite of being a dietitian and preaching about importance of fruits and veggies, whole grains etc in real life you have to do whats good for you emotionally and physically.

    • 6.1
      Merry-Jennifer — October 29, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

      You’re so right. I try to model good behavior (whether it’s eating behavior or otherwise) to my kids, but sometimes, I just want to skip the veggies and go straight to chocolate cake. “Everything in moderation” is my mantra.

  7. 7

    You may not be perfect but the world is most definitely a better place because of honest people like you. I love that you are real. Xo

  8. 8
    Betsy — October 27, 2014 @ 9:52 pm

    Ahhhh, but you ARE perfectly imperfect, as is the human condition, I’ve learned.
    I love your confessions… so reassuring and endearing!

    • 8.1
      Merry-Jennifer — October 29, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

      Perfectly imperfect. I like that. And thank you for taking a moment to comment!

  9. 9
    Kathryn — October 29, 2014 @ 9:59 am

    Honesty beats perfection any day in my book. Thank you, as ever, for a thought provoking piece of writing and a delicious recipe to go with it. I’m a big fan of apple tart and this version looks wonderful.

  10. 10
    Rachel — October 31, 2014 @ 9:29 am

    This is why I love you! Great post!! I kept nodding my head saying oh, that is me too on every sentence!!
    And, I just went apple picking and now will have to try this recipe with my abundance of apples.
    Mine eat cereal every day, and sometimes, well most times, it is cinnamon toast crunch, maybe honeycomb.. ha! . 🙂
    And I love homemade pizza but the kids told me Papa Johns is better. I gave up and we order it every Friday, cause who wants to cook on Friday!
    Happy Halloween!!

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