The cocktail party season is upon us, and with it comes a barrage of cheese and crackers in place of dinner. Not that there’s anything wrong with cheese and crackers. It’s just that after the third party or so, my enthusiasm for even the ripest artisanal cave-aged wedge starts to wane.
Consider this savory apple tart an antidote. It hits all the requisite cheesy, alcohol-sopping notes, but it’s more sophisticated and substantial.
Although this tart is best served warm within an hour or two of baking, you can make it in the morning and serve it the same night (reheat it in a 325-degree oven for about 20 minutes). But don’t leave it longer than that. By the next morning, both the apples and the crust will have wilted into a sad and rather tired state. Or freeze the unbaked tart, then pop it into the oven while it’s still frozen. (It will need an extra 20 to 30 minutes.)
To serve this at a big party, cut the tart into bite-size squares for easy consumption. For a smaller group, serve it like focaccia alongside grilled sausages or baked ham.
Roasted Apple, Shallot and Blue Cheese Tart
1 (¼-ounce) envelope active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup fine cornmeal
2¼ teaspoons sea salt, more as needed
∑ cup plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
1¾ pounds apples, cored, quartered and sliced ¼-inch thick
¾ pound shallots, peeled, trimmed and sliced ¼-inch thick
¼ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
5 thyme branches
¾ cup finely crumbled blue cheese
Flaky sea salt
Place ¾ cup lukewarm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over water. Let stand until frothy, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, cornmeal and 8 grams (1¾ teaspoons) salt. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; stir in yeast mixture and ∑ cup oil until mixture is combined. If the dough seems dry, add a little more water. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 to 10 minutes. Or, knead in a mixer or food processor fit with the dough blade for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rest at room temperature until dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
While dough rises, heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together apples, shallots, ¼ cup oil, ½ teaspoon salt, the black pepper and thyme. Spread onto two large baking sheets. Roast, tossing occasionally, until mixture is tender and golden, about 30 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet. Punch down dough and transfer to baking sheet. Using a rolling pin or your fingers, roll or stretch dough to make an even layer about 3/16-inch thick. Scatter apple-shallot mixture over crust. Scatter cheese on top. Drizzle with oil and season with flaky sea salt and black pepper. Transfer pan to oven and bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is just melted, 17 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve.
Makes 12 servings.