If pie crusts scare you, start here. Made from a flaky, forgiving pastry, this one is easy to roll out, and needn’t be perfectly thin or perfectly round. And the finished pie — layered prettily with apple slices — is as yummy as it is gorgeous.
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 1 pie/galette
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 stick salted butter, sliced into small pieces
1/4 cup sour cream whisked with 1/4 cup very cold water
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar, divided use
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup peach or apricot jam or jelly
Heat the oven to 400 F.
Prepare the dough: in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the flour with the salt, then add the butter slices and pulse until the mixture just forms coarse crumbs. Pour the sour cream-water mixture through the feed tube and pulse again until the dough just starts to come together into large clumps. Turn the dough onto a work surface and gather it gently together, then press it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the freezer while you prepare the filling and the apples.
Prepare the filling: in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with 1/4 cup of the sugar until very creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula now and then. Beat in the egg and vanilla until very creamy.
Prepare the apples: peel them, core them, slice them into thin wedges, and toss them with the lemon juice.
When you are ready to assemble the tart, roll the floured dough out on a floured surface until it is a thin 12-inch circle (it doesn’t need to be perfectly thin or a perfect circle!). Fold the dough loosely into quarters to transfer it to an ungreased baking sheet, then unfold it back into a circle. Pour the vanilla filling onto the center of the dough, then use a spatula to spread it, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border around the edge. Arrange the apples over the filling in a concentric pattern starting in the middle and overlapping them slightly, until you get to the border (you may have some apples left over, which is fine). Sprinkle the apples with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, then fold the border over the filling, pleating as necessary to keep its shape; the center will be open.
Bake at 400 F for 30 to 40 minutes until deeply golden. Spread the apples with the jam or jelly (you may need to heat it first if it’s too thick to spread). Cool briefly, then cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.