Apple Pie Tarts

"Is that a tart or a pie you got there?" A humorous take on the great debate wrecking Irish desserts. Fight Food Fascism!

Apple Pie Tarts

‘Apple pie tarts’ might be a good compromise, actually. Because something just has to be done – you hear it all the time! “Is that a tart or a pie?” Or perhaps in this trite, politically correct world of ours the alphabetically ordered “Pie or tart?”.

Apple pie tart terminology seems to be a topic of choice for only the most emphatically boring person at the cocktail party. Without exception. I mean who cares, even if you call it Irish apple cake? Doesn’t it taste great?! But that one finicky nit-picker is always around there somewhere, lurking. The worst know-it-all of them all.

That person.

The worst because they don’t just know things, they know things better (than you). Such people make a strong case for introducing the far more accurate German word for this kind of human, Besserwisser (‘better knower’). Surely its time we loaned this word in?

Every night of the week, at various kinds of occasions and functions, there’s a prattling nuisance signing the petition for better knower to be an acceptable noun.

And the tart/pie dichotomy is their pen.

The Irish Desserts Sidestep

In Ireland, we usually just don’t bother. Not because we can see such apple pie tarts debate for what it is, wasteful talk about fastidious finesse. But due to the fact that we don’t have much filling for our argument. There’s no meat, so to speak.

Because for the Irish a pie generally contains exactly that: big juicy eff-off chunks of it. Or potatoes. Or cheese. A dash of kidney, perhaps.

Many traditional Irish tarts may well have developed with one particular aim: Curb the porkfest.

Alas, inserting dead animal inside of oneself truly does become such a bore sometimes. (After a certain life stage, inhabitants of true Western Europe have pork coming out their eyes, ‘Irish bacon syndrome’, the doctors call it). But with no end to the slaughter in sight, things sweet do certainly provide delightful, carnage-free intervals to the natives. A good bet being a nice piece of Irish apple cake, or rather ‘apple cake tarts’..ahem….that is to say: apple pie tarts.

Apple Pie Tarts – now meat-free

But the abrupt contrast in taste can truly shock the organism, so it’s much better to split the difference. Many traditional Irish tarts may well have been developed with one particular aim: Curb the porkfest, At least for a little while, long enough to give your heart a chance to catch up on your lungs. And the most popular tarts in Ireland usually have at least a hint of what the name suggests, a tangy edge rather than a taste that’s full-on sweet.

Apple pie tarts
A topless Irish apple something: Ready for high notes in the oven or unfinished symphony?

Irish tarts generally adhere to the criteria of their class, being made from shortcrust pastry and with shallows sides the norm. However, they do tend to fall short on other technical requirements, as a top crust is often present. In the strictest sense, a tart has a bottom crust only.

In any case, if classification is to be respected, both it and the bottom crust should be firm yet crumbly – as opposed to the crisp or flaky crusts found on examples of what other parts of the world calls ‘pies’.

Irish Apple Cake

Apple pie tarts are a doozy to nail down. But that’s the point surely? Much better to ease up on the nitpicking and let your taste buds decide what flies. And should all this talk of tart and categorization get your pastry fork finger itching, consider taking a look at our confusingly titled Irish apple cake recipe. Because we find ‘name that ______’ games fun. And recent scientific evidence shows that using a pet name for what you love the most makes it taste better.

Sticking to our goal of flummoxing fixed frames but still bringing you authentic Irish food traditions, it’s a most scrumptious recipe for Irish apple cake. Where despite living in a world brimming with potential apple pie tart ingredients, we’ve shown exceptional levels of temperance and stayed true to tradition. Apart from the coconut, that is.

Parlor Game

And if you’re afraid you might doze off at the next boring pie and coffee social occasion, it’s probably best to check out our single-player Irish Apple Cake, Pie, Tart Parlor Game. It provides a perfect opportunity to strut your stuff on the Irish dessert front. And smugly strike down the hypocrisy walling you in on all sides.

Even better, print out a copy of the parlor game and keep it on your person, that way, you can’t even be accused of rudely staring into your phone as your try to uncover the plot.

But a word to the wise. A plea, even. Whatever kind of pastry you make, do go ahead and simply enjoy it. Don’t put up with apple pie tart cocktail party fascists.

The parts that are left of decent society are too precious.

Each evening a better knower is allowed spout their trite norms unchecked is an evening the dark side – or the gray side, actually – grows in strength. And somewhere far off, hidden in the greenery, deep beneath the brush where no eyes can peer, a tiny sweet little nightingale dies, its heart pierced by a thorn. Perhaps.

Feel like saying, fellow human?