Still Life with an Arkansas Black Apple Tart & A Scenic Road Trip

I realize that many of you lovely readers of Food on Fifth and fellow bloggers travel to, or are currently vacationing in, exotic locations around the globe while so many other blogger friends live in cities and countries far & wide. Celia is in New Zealand visiting family, Roger actually lives in France, Tina is based out of Frankfurt, Germany but  can be found in so many truly exotic spots it can make the mind reel. Selma resides  in London & Cheryl in Glasgow and Meg might be blogging about Verona one day and Virginia the next. My recent travels were of a more humble nature, yet iconically American.

A couple of weeks ago my well-traveled friend, Terry, and I purposefully took a road trip to Bentonville, Arkansas.  Deep in the Ozark forest is a wonder to behold, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. We will return to this thread later…..

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Have you ever eaten an Arkansas Black apple?  From a road side stand in Harrison, Arkansas I bought a half bushel basket of these very crispy, deep red, right on the edge of black, apples. They are long-keeping apples and are said to turn almost black when stored.

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Last week after our return I gave away bags of these beauties to friends who love to cook. Jill at Jill Cooks Here took home a bag and Nancy at Good Food Matters just made a terrific seasonal cake with her bag.

These apples are very crisp and do not get mushy when cooked, but hold their shape and keep a bit of crunch when used in cakes & pies. I like this quality very much.

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 Maple syrup, brown sugar & cinnamon.

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A crust using the seeds of a whole vanilla bean, almond meal & Kerrygold butter.

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Filled and loosely….I like to think artistically….latticed.

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Sugared top golden browned.

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“Still Life with an Arkansas Black Apple Tart”

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Best eaten warm from the oven.

Arkansas Black Apple Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

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Ingredients for Crust:

  • the seeds from one vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Meal/Gluten Free)
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour + extra for rolling out the dough (King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold/12 tablespoons butter grated or cut into small pieces (Kerrygold is my favorite)
  • 2 tbsp cold plain greek yogurt

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 5-6 Arkansas Black Apples, cored, peeled & sliced, or other seasonal local apple with a crispy, tart flesh
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg or any ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 whole egg well beaten for wash
  • Granulated Sanding sugar for dusting over the top before baking

Directions for Tart Crust:

  1. Put the 1 3/4 cups almond flour, 1/2 cup gluten-free flour, the vanilla bean seeds & the 1/4 tsp sea salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times.
  2. Add the cold butter & pulse a few times.
  3. Add the cold yogurt & pulse until a sticky dough forms.
  4. Scrape dough from the processor bowl, shape into a ball, wrap with plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. This can be made the day before as well.
  5. Lightly grease a springform pan. Press 2/3 of  the chilled dough into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. Set aside.
  6. Roll the other 1/3 of the dough out on a floured board and cut into lattice strips. Use as much flour as needed as this dough is very soft and tender.

Directions for Filling the Crust:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl toss the apple slices with the juice of half a lemon. Sprinkle with the nutmeg and dark brown sugar and toss again.
  3. Drizzle with the maple syrup and toss well.
  4. Arrange the apple slices in the tart crust snuggly. Top with the butter pieces.
  5. Place the dough strips over the top of the apple filling in a “lattice” pattern. As you can see perfection was not my goal, but I did want it to look pretty.
  6. Brush lattice top with egg wash and sprinkle generously with the sanding sugar.
  7. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the apples are bubbling and the top crust is golden brown. If the crust browns to rapidly then cover the entire pan loosely with foil.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Best served warm and of course would be extra good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Scenes from a road trip….

A couple of hours into our trip we had to stop at Billy Tripp’s “Mindfield” in Brownsville, TN…now an official Roadside Attraction!

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I always like to stop and wander about. A West Tennessee cotton field is a contemplative place.

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Heading into the Ozarks on a cloudy day.

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Bentonville, Arkansas. Home of Walmart. Old ad..a store wide selection of timely values.

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Bentonville is also home to the  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Sam Walton’s daughter, Alice, the powerhouse behind this beautiful space is an interesting read on Google. A stunning space for both it architecture, designed by Moshe Safdie,  and its remote location, it houses American art spanning 5 centuries of artists from Colonial times to the present.

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Other road side attractons…..

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Take a road trip….make a tart.

28 thoughts on “Still Life with an Arkansas Black Apple Tart & A Scenic Road Trip

  1. Your apple tart looks delicious , especially the surgery crust and the black apples. The museum looks terrific and if I am ever in that part of the world I will have to go. I’m in Sockholm visiting my niece and they have mountains of chanterelles and porcinies at he markets and tart little berries . That’s the fun of blogging, you meet people from all over the world.

    1. Gerlinde you are so very right about blogging and meeting folks from around the world..it is like the modern “pen pal”. I learn so much from you and other blogging friends who live in far away places while having some common interests. Thanks for you nice comments.

  2. I was intrigued by these apples when Nancy at Good Food Matters introduced them earlier this week in her cakes. I knew you would create something wonderful with them Teresa. Loved the still life presentating of your gorgeous pie and the intriguing crust. A beautiful post through and through. The museum in on my bucket list. Looks fabulous. One painting that did not end up there is Eakin’s The Anatomy Lesson, but not without a huge uprising in the city of brotherly love to save it and keep it!

  3. Whoa…from Billy Tripp to alice walton….my head is spinning! Need some old fashioned american apple pie…and a glass of wine! thanks! 😉

    1. Well let me say that a trip to Arkansas was a bit off my usual interests, but ever since first reading about this museum my friend and I had been talking about a road trip to see it. The architecture alone is worth seeing. A beautiful building in a perfect setting.

  4. Amazing!! The springform pan is a great idea to get the tart out. Also I would love to go to Arkansas one day.
    When (not if, because it looks so good you sold me on it) I recreate this, do I have to use gluten-free flour, or is it okay to use regular all-purpose flour? I’m a fan of the gluten but I don’t want to not get your delicious-looking result.

  5. Your pictures always compel me to do things! I have a cherry crisp in the oven, but now I want an apple tart and I want to road trip to the Ozarks. Sadly both have to wait, but thank you so much for the inspiration!
    Laurie – Country Link

  6. Not only have I heard of Arkansas Black apples, I have a couple of the trees growing in my orchard. They are a late harvest apple that is very crisp making them good for apple cider. You did a fine job with your tart…it looks great.

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