Saturday, September 22, 2018

Pumpkin and Apple Rose Tart from The Fitz and The Fool

My father nodded back gravely. He looked at the serving boy. “What is that savory smell?” 

“It’s a beef shoulder, simmered until the meat fell off the bones, with three yellow onions and half a bushel of carrots, and two full measures of this year’s barley. If you order the soup here, sir, you will not get a bowl of brown water with a potato bit at the bottom! And the bread has just come from the oven, and we have summer butter, kept in the cold cellar and yellow as a daisy’s heart. But if you prefer mutton, there are mutton pies likewise stuffed with barley and carrot and onion, in brown crusts so flaky that we must put a plate under them, for they are so tender that otherwise you may end up wearing one! We have sliced pumpkin baked with apples and butter and cream, and …”

“Stop, stop,” my father begged him, “or my belly will burst just listening to you.”

- Fool's Assassin: Book I of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
This beautiful pumpkin spice pie is made from thinly sliced pumpkin and apple - Inspired by Robin Hobb's Fool's Assassin

Wow. I quite agree with Fitz here; this mouthwatering passage on the menu at the tavern at Oaksbywater makes me too hungry. While I am tempted to recreate every dish described here, I started first with the baked pumpkin. With autumn arriving this week, irresistibly beautiful gourds have begun to fill the aisles of the grocery store.

The pumpkin and apple combination sounds fantastic for a fall or harvest celebration. But from the description, it isn't clear exactly what shape this dish takes. I considered roasting slices of apple and pumpkin lightly coated in melted butter, served with a cream sauce of some sort, but the passage does imply that the fruits are baked with the cream. After a couple attempts, I eventually settled on a pumpkin and apple tart - sure, the butter is all in the pie crust, but all four mentioned ingredients are baked together. I added a classic pumpkin spice mix, both because it complements the pumpkin and the apple so well, and because it seemed appropriate for the Winterfest setting in Fool's Assassin. I tried using a mandolin to make the thin ribbons of pumpkin and apple, but actually found that a vegetable peeler produced more flexible pieces that were easier to work with.

The spiral or rose petal shape of the pumpkin and apple slices makes for a beautiful dish that would be perfect to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck. The sliced pie pieces look nearly as gorgeous as the unsliced tart, with the alternating orange and cream stripes appearing. With all the spicy pumpkin-y goodness and a more interesting texture, I think I might prefer this pumpkin and apple spiral tart to the classic pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin and Apple rose tart - a beautiful dish for a Fall potluck


Makes 1 tart: 8-10 servings.
  • 1 9-inch pie crust, ideally made with butter
  • Half of a sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin (with the whole pumpkin being 2.5-3 lb)
  • 2-3 apples: soft and red apples like red delicious or McIntosh work best
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Pumpkin and Apple Tart - inspired by the food served at a tavern in Withywoods in the Six Duchies


Put on an audiobook or a podcast. Slicing and arranging the pumpkin and apple are meditative but time-intensive tasks. If you have extra pumpkin slices left after assembling the pie, toss them in salt and vegetable oil and bake at 425°F for a few minutes to make pumpkin chips. (Keep an eye on them! They brown fast!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Blind bake the pie crust using pie weights, or, my go-to, aluminum foil and sugar for 35 minutes, or until the crust is gold. Let cool. (If not preparing the tart on the same day, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge overnight.)
  2. Prepare pumpkin curls: Cut pumpkin into half along the stem. Wrap one half and store for another use. Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh (roasted pumpkin seeds are a great way to use up extra seeds). With a vegetable peeler, remove the outer skin. Then, with a vegetable peeler, cut the pumpkin flesh into thin ribbons. Each strip should be about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long. (See photo below!) 
    Use a vegetable peeler to make super thin slices of pumpkin, which makes it easier to arrange them into a spiral shape
  3. Prepare apple slices: Wash the apples, but leave the peel on for the color contrast. If you have an apple corer, core the apples, then slice each in half along the core. Otherwise, slice each apple in half along the stem, then use a paring knife to cut a V shape into each half to remove the core. With the cut side down, slice the apple into very thin slices, cutting perpendicular to the core. Because the center of these slices is cut out, they bend easily to fit the curve of the pastry shell.
  4. Prepare cream filling: Beat together the cream, eggs, sugar, spices and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour into the pie crust; make sure the crust isn't hot enough to cook the eggs prematurely.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F, if it isn't still at temperature.Work from the outside in to arrange the apple and pumpkin into a spiral
  6. Arrange the pumpkin and apple slices: Line the edge of the crust with pumpkin slices. Have each slice overlap by about a half-inch. The filling should be enough to keep the pieces sticking together. Continue working around in a spiral until you have three layers of pumpkin, then add a layer of apple slices. Use your fingers to gently pull in all the slices towards the crust, to pack the pumpkin and apple as tightly as possible and to keep the slices in a nearly-vertical arrangement. (See photo above.) Continuing alternating with three layers of pumpkin and one layer of apple. When you get so close to the center that you can no longer easily curl the fruit slices, wrap a few layers of slices around a finger, then place in the center of the tart and allow it to unfurl slightly.The pumpkin and apple slices look just like the petals of a rose. Perfect recipe for fall.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling has set and the pumpkin is tender when pricked. Let cool slightly before serving. This tart is also delicious chilled.
The Realm of the Elderlings inspired this pumpkin spice tart - sliced pumpkin baked with apple and butter and cream

This recipe was featured on:

For more rose-shaped pastry ideas, check out these muffin-sized treats:
More recipes from the Realm of the Elderlings series:

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