Traditional Columbus Day desserts

Plum tart
Okay, so the only thing traditional about Columbus Day is that the kids have a Monday off from school and they are hanging around waiting to be fed.  And it’s a long weekend in October, so it’s a good time to visit the grandparents in the country and pick some apples.  More people at the table, more dessert!
Before we got around to apple picking, I saw these nice plums, and this tart recipe from Orangette looked so easy that I had to try it.  You should, too.  I would like to experiment with different fruits–peach, apricot…what about grapes?  The beauty of this recipe is that there’s no fussing with pastry dough, no rolling, chilling or crimping.  Just dump the mixture into the tart pan, press it gently, arrange the fruit and bake.  It was good with vanilla ice cream for dessert, but I would eat it any time of day.  It would be an easy addition to a brunch buffet.
Simplest Apple Tart
After the apple picking, we had bags of Granny Smith and Fuji.  So, as I continue to cook my way through the Smitten Kitchen archives, I made this Simplest Apple Tart.  (I’m drawn to any recipe with the word “simple” in it.  It’s not that I fear the complex, it’s just that I’m impatient.)  I was a little hasty and failed to chill the dough quite enough before assembly, but this was another winner.  If you’re still a pastry-phobe, try this first, and just bake it on a sheet pan with parchment.  Nothing but butter, sugar and apples here.  And if you want to skip a step, skip the part about making syrup with the apple peels.  Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, and not difficult, but it is One More Thing To Do, and this recipe was supposed to be simple, right?  You may find me just brushing the tart with a little honey next time.

Back at the orchard, we could have picked up some apple cider doughnuts to go with our fresh apple cider.  But I’ve been waiting to make these, so that’s what we did on Monday.  (That’s about all we accomplished.)  And now that I’ve made them, it’s going to be hard to stop making doughnuts.  I compared a several recipes, which were all similar, so I stuck to this one.  It’s a cake doughnut, with buttermilk, butter, and reduced apple cider.  I used whole grain flour, so I needed a little more liquid in the batter.  One grated apple did the trick.  These were not difficult, and my five-year-old helped when it was time to cut them out.  The recipe makes so many (I used a smaller cookie cutter, too) that I only fried up half the batch.  I froze the others (all cut out and ready to go) on a cookie sheet, and then transferred them to a freezer bag when they were solid.  Next time we want doughnuts, I’ll thaw them for as long as it takes to heat the oil, and it will be faster than a run to Dunkin’ Donuts.


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