Weather-wise, Scotland is ahead of us here in the Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic United States by about a month. In other words, September there feels like October here. During this time Scotland's blackberry season overlaps with its apple season, both of which typically last until November. Scotland's love of these fruits is particularly evident in the city of Edinburgh, which is currently chock full of pastry shops and dessert menus featuring the berry-apple pairing. Unfortunately, most desserts there also contain tons of butter and refined white flour.
Here at home where I have more control over what I eat, I prefer to lighten my baking where I can in order to enjoy a treat without ruining my health. Usually by substituting alternative ingredients while keeping others.
In this case, plant-based coconut oil replaces the butter, while a combination of Bob's Red Mill whole grain oat flour and rolled oats stand in for the white flour that is typically in a tart recipe. These changes introduce antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, heart healthy soluble fiber and antimicrobial properties for the digestive tract lacking in classic pie shells. What remains is the sugar, which can easily be reduced or eliminated depending on tolerance.
Additionally, there are many health benefits derived from cooking with apples. Helen Nichols, editor-in-chief and author for Well-Being Secrets, writes in-depth on this topic in a recent article posted here: http://www.well-beingsecrets.com/apples-health-benefits/
I prefer fruit tarts over pies because they are faster and easier to pull together. This one has a shell that can be made 1-2 days in advance if kept refrigerated in plastic wrap. The filling is just a few quick steps to a beautiful showy result.
And on an extra happy note, my finicky hard-to-please husband approved this recipe. Usually he refuses to try anything that I prepare specifically for this blog. And while this attitude causes him to miss out on quite a few tasty foods in general, when he does like a dish he is usually, as they say in the UK, "Spot on."
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
2 cups gluten-free whole grain oat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon reserved
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup solid coconut oil
4-5 tablespoons blackberry preserves
2 medium baking apples, peeled and cored
1 pint whole fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon apple pie spice
In a food processor or blender, break up the rolled oats by quickly pulsing 2-3 times. In a mixing bowl, combine with the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Melt the coconut oil in a microwave-safe container for 20-30 seconds, or heat in a saucepan over medium-high until dissolved. Stir the oil into the flour mixture until a stiff dough forms. Press into the sides and bottom of a 9.5-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Spread the preserves evenly over the bottom of the chilled tart shell. Quarter the apples, then cut into thin slices. Arrange the apple slices in an overlapping circle around the outer edge of the tart. Then form an inner ring with the blackberries. Cube some of the remaining apple and arrange in the center of the tart. Place additional berries evenly around the outer edge of the tart. Sprinkle the apples with the pie spice and the reserved brown sugar. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the apples are tender.
Yield: 6-8 servings