Apple, Ham, and Blue Cheese Tart, plus: the secret to getting really thin crust (and a visit to White Pine Orchard for apple-picking)


Apples in a savory tart/pizza?  Absolutely!  One typical combo in a savory fruit tart is blue cheese and pear, but this is the Upper Midwest in October, and our friend Keith Kozub runs the world’s finest organic apple orchard:  White Pine Orchard, near River Falls, Wisconsin.  We went apple-picking with friends and ended up with what seemed like bushels of apples.  This will be the first of many new apple recipes, and it was a chance to play with a better way to get a really thin crust for this kind of tart or pizza…Keith’s business card says “… growing free range apples for over 40 years.”  They taste as good as they look; these are the Liberty variety, a firm and tart apple that works great in baked goods, and in this tart:


Give them a call at White Pine Orchard (W7901 830th Ave., River Falls, WI 54022, 715-425-2248 to be sure they have apples. 

Inside the shack, you’ll be offered a sample of fresh apple cider.  My advice is to take it– you will eventually buy several half-gallons.  The blend changes as the harvest proceeds and when we were there last week, the cider was the best I have ever tasted.  It had complex flavors underneath the apple blend they used, with notes of cherry and hints of other fruit in the apple’s spiciness:


So, to make the tart, bring home your apples, and preheat your oven to as high as it can go– at my house, that means 550 degrees F (288 Celsius).  Let it heat up with a pizza stone in place near the bottom of the oven, for 30 minutes while you prepare the ingredients.

Now roll out a piece of dough (any lean dough you like; see our other pizza posts) to 1/8-inch thick, right on a pizza peel.  We usually have you start with a 1-pound (grapefruit-sized) piece of dough, and most people have been happy with that.  You end up with something halfway between an eighth and a quarter-inch thick.  But here’s a trick to more easily get to 1/8-inch thick, and the thin crispy crust some of you are looking for:  Start with less dough, it’s just a little easier to get to 1/8-inch thickness.  I had much less trouble getting a half-pound (orange-sized) piece of dough to 1/8-inch thickness than I usually do.  The pizza’s smaller, but since you’re spreading the dough more, it’s not that much smaller.  I ended up with a round that was about 12 inches across:


Dust well with flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and set aside.  Meanwhile, crumble about a quarter cup of your favorite blue cheese.  I’d love to be able to tell you that our publisher flies us to Europe to sample authentic blue cheeses at the source, but I got my Danish-style blue cheese at Costco.  It was quite good and its savory flavor worked perfectly with the sweet-tart apples.

Peel and slice an apple last so it doesn’t get brown sitting around waiting (you’ll only need one apple if you cut it as thin as I’m suggesting below).  Halve them, cut out the core, and peel, then lay them flat side down to make parallel slices (I’ve been using these Epicurean brand cutting boards lately, they seem to be as gentle on the knives as wood but they’re dishwasher-safe).  You want to get your slices really thin, as thin as your knife allows, or they won’t bake through in the super-fast oven time at this temperature.  Don’t cut non-parallel wedges, or they won’t bake uniformly:



I didn’t use lemon juice to keep the apples from turning brown because I thought that the tartness wouldn’t do well with the savory cheese.  Work quickly and you won’t need it.

Take the plastic off your dough round and be sure that the dough is still moving well on the pizza peel by jiggling it back and forth.  If it’s not moving well, use a dough scraper to get some flour underneath it and test again for good movement.

Distribute the cheese over the rolled-out dough now.  Use the cheese sparingly as in the picture (you may have crumbled more than you need); this kind of cheese becomes very runny at high temperature and if you use too much it will be a mess (plus it’s a strong flavor that I didn’t want overwhelming the apples):


Now add the apple slices:


Finish with the sweetness of ham:  I used two small slices of uncured smoked ham, which beautifully complemented the sweetness of the apple.  Cut the ham into pieces and distribute over the tart, and drizzle evenly with olive oil (about a tablespoon or so, easiest way to drizzle over pizzas is with a squeeze bottle):


Check once more for good movement on the pizza peel, and if there’s not, repeat the procedure with the dough scraper.  Then quickly slide the tart onto the preheated pizza stone.

When rolled this thin, the tart was ready in exactly eight minutes at this temperature, so keep an eye on your lunch:


Speaking of which, my wife and I had a leisurely lunch today– this was a perfect match with some decent Sauvignon Blanc that was lying around the house (we left Keith’s apple juice for our kids this afternoon).  Bon appetit, and happy apple season!

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52 thoughts to “Apple, Ham, and Blue Cheese Tart, plus: the secret to getting really thin crust (and a visit to White Pine Orchard for apple-picking)”

  1. wow, hamd, apple and blue cheese, i never would have thought! will have to give this one a try, thanks Jeff.

  2. Another trick is to roll the crust out directly onto parchment on the peel. Then slide the crust, parchment and all, onto the pizza stone. With this method, you can go even thinner than 1/8″, if you so desire. 🙂

    1. Hi Liz,

      I learned this trick from a group of students I was teaching, they rolled their pizza out on parchment by mistake. We were all very excited to see that it turned out wonderfully! Thanks for sharing the tip!


    1. Hi Kristine,

      I just checked the link and it is working for me. Give it another chance and let me know if you are still having trouble using the links. Another way to check out the new book is to click on the book itself at the top of the page, it is a live link to Amazon where you can see the book.

      Thanks and enjoy your trip to the orchard!


  3. Sounds tasty! Can’t wait to try it…I’ve given your book to 3 friends for birthday presents so far…Really excited about the new book…BUT when are you coming to California (L.A.)?

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      We would love to come to L.A., but the closest we have plans for at the moment is San Fran at the beginning of November. We will be updating our events calendar ASAP so you can see where we will be headed!

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. *Another* use for apples!!! Many thanks, I’ve got quite a few apples to work through over here as well. 🙂 This sounds divine, can’t wait to try it!

  5. This looks delicious. I haven’t make bread since the weather has been too warm and I am really waiting for your new book. I grind my own wheat and going half and half I am still playing around with the dough.

    When will you be coming to the midwest, specifically the Toledo area?

  6. Great trick, thanks for sharing, and your pizza looks lovely.
    Nice to follow you on Twitter, and best wishes for the new book (hope Santa Claus will bring it to me in France :-)!)

  7. JanKnitz: It’s not up on the site yet, because our schedule isn’t finalized. Tentatively, we’re arriving on 11/4 and will be on KGO-TV on 11/5. We’re in town till Saturday night or Sunday morning, don’t quite know yet.

    KMDunn: Well, this is all up to the publisher, and though my wife went to college in Ohio, we’re not scheduled on book tour anywhere in the Buckeye State. Chicago (10/28), Milwaukee (10/29) and Minneapolis (10/27 and others) are currently our only scheduled Midwest cities.

    Flo: Thanks for checking in, love hearing from you in Paris. Ho ho ho.


  8. I went apple picking this weekend and got a full load of apples sitting in my counter. I guess i have the perfect dinner recipe tonight! Thanks
    By the way when you are coming to Boston? I cant wait to get the new book and have it signed as well. I have many friends with gluten intolerance and im sure I will finally be able to get them baked goods again!

    1. Fernanda and Tracy: I’ll be in Boston, tentatively scheduled for a booksigning Northeastern University on 11/13 at noon. But check back on our Events page as this gets finalized. Unfortunately nothing is scheduled in upstate NY. Jeff

  9. I totally wouldn’t have ever thought those three ingredients would taste good together, but it looks awesome! My coworkers are happy i got this book! My bosses especially! (Well fed boys, just like my 3 year old kiddo!)

    I have a question: If I wanted to make hoagie rolls, which recipe would you suggest? I make these amazing homemade meatballs, and one of my bosses in particular loves meatball subs, but I want to make my own rolls.

    The book is fantastic! I am about to pre-order the new one (the cherry tomato baguette looks phenomenal!).

    Thank you Jeff and Zoe for publishing this book! I am hoping that more people become inspired to cook at home a whole lot more!

  10. Jan: Check out our “Events” tab at the top of the website, we’re doing lots of book-signings. Check back often, because the schedule is still changeable. Jeff

  11. What is the internal temp on bread suppose to be please ……..I read it somewhere on your site and can’t find it again…….sometimes I am not sure if the bread is done even though it looks real pretty……..Thanks Nancy

    1. Nancy: We didn’t specify internal temperature because we weren’t crazy about the “instant” read thermometers that are affordabe. The cheap ones take up to five minutes to settle down to a final temperature, and the true instant-read digitals are $80. We didn’t want to saddle our readers with that.

      That said, “lean” breads seem to do well at about 205 degrees F, and egg-enriched breads do well at about 180-185 degrees F. The other complication is that you have to be confident that the tip of the probe is truly at the center of the loaf, or it will read high. Jeff

  12. I’m a longtime fan of the book with the new one on order, but I had a problem this week which i’ve not encountered before…I made a batch of olive oil dough with herbs de provence in it for a friend’s church’s bake sale today and made out the loaves Thurs. night to rise in the ‘fridge but when I got them out Friday noon, they were flat as when I put them in. I had to let them rise on the counter until they looked right. I thought they’d rise in the ‘fridge overnight? What did I do wrong? The bread tasted good, but i didn’t get the oven spring I expected.

    I generally made boules, not loaves, so any help would be appreciated.


    1. Pat: Sounds like something was up with this batch. Was the dough particularly old? Sometimes that makes the fridge rise trick a little dicey. Glad to hear they at least partially recovered on the counter. If you’re switching here to loaf-pan breads, that might also be the difference– they’re heavier– there’s just more dough weighing everything down, so again, it may not be as forgiving for this method.

      Linda: So sorry we missed you at MCFM, wish I’d remembered to put that notice up sooner!

  13. Oh darn! I didn’t see until just now that you would be at Mill City. I loved your visit there last year, and I love the naan. (Apparently you even made the sun shine today.)

  14. Pat: Sounds like something was up with this batch. Was the dough particularly old? Sometimes that makes the fridge rise trick a little dicey. Glad to hear they at least partially recovered on the counter. If you’re switching here to loaf-pan breads, that might also be the difference– they’re heavier– there’s just more dough weighing everything down, so again, it may not be as forgiving for this method.

    It was 6 days old and it was made on a rainy day which my friend said would take more flour, but I stuck with what you called for and it felt fine..sticky as usual. Could it have been too wet? What is the rule for letting it rise all night in the fridge? It had about 10 hours to rise. I need more help…


    1. Hi Pat,

      If your dough was a bit wetter and 6 days old you may get more spreading than with a slightly drier/younger batch. Did you try baking any of that batch in the regular counter rise? If so, how did those loaves come out? Were they also spreading to the sides too much?

      As you know our dough doesn’t really get much rise as it is resting, but it sounds like you didn’t get the typical oven spring either.

      Any chance you have a scale at home? If so you can try weighing the flour next time to be sure you are getting a consistent dough. If you try this method for the Master recipe you can just use:

      2 pounds unbleached All-purpose flour
      1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
      1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
      3 cups of lukewarm water

      Thanks! Zoë

  15. I forgot to say the holes were nice and big and it tasted great! Just was flat ish. She was making kneaded dough and told me it took a half cup or full cup to feel right given the weather and humidity.

  16. My two cents with respect to an instant read thermometer: I find (often) that my AB in 5 breads give all outward appearances of being done, only to find a wet, doughy center. I use a $5 grocery store instant-read thermometer and in 30 seconds or less I know if the bread is done or not. It’s either 180 (soft breads) to 200+ (artisan styles) degrees or it isn’t in that amount of time (the exact temp isn’t as important as knowing it’s at least up there).

    Using the thermometer has eliminated the guesswork and I’ve had no more underbaked breads.

    1. Hi Janknitz,

      Thank you, I’m sure that will be helpful to many folks! Do you also use an oven thermometer? I’m just curious what size loaves you are making? I’m just trying to figure out why you would be getting a wet center if the outside is looking dark and ready? Sounds like an interesting mystery!?

      Thanks! Zoë

  17. Is your event at Powell’s in Portland, OR a book signing? Or is there something more? I can’t tell from your calendar or the one on the Powell’s website.

    1. Hi Julie,

      I think we will get to talk a bit about the book and then do a signing, but I’ll confirm that! Hope we’ll get to meet you!

      Thanks, Zoë

  18. My oven is pretty much on target and the breads had lovely crusts and nice hollow sounds. But sometimes there was crumb that was a bit too wet and doughy in the center.

    I don’t know if it makes any difference that instead of water or ice cubes for steam I use either a clay baker or the preheated bottom of an enamel roaster to cover the breads. I don’t like water or ice in my oven. That may be a factor.

    With the thermometer, though, I can be fully confident that the breads are done and perfect.

    1. Hi Janknitz,

      It sounds like your baking method is just right and I love that you use the covered loaf technique. It will have to remain a mystery, but I’m glad that it is working out with the thermometer.

      Happy baking and enjoy all the bread! Zoë

  19. This summer I made grilled pizzas with brie and seasonal berries with tarragon. Cut into bite size squares for a great appetizer.

    1. Brian: We find that there’s no end to the possibilities with the grilled stuff outside. Very versatile way to keep baking in the summer. Jeff

  20. I’ve been baking from you book since last December and because I just discovered my oven was off by 50º (yikes!) I also decided to weigh my flour when scooping it after reading your post on the 2# weight for the basic recipe. And, yes, I was off by more than 3 ounces too heavy. So I just mixed up a new batch of the basic recipe to see how it might differ – with an oven adjustment – but I’m wondering how the 2# “rule of thumb” would change with rye and whole wheat flour, as in the European Peasant Bread. Any thoughts?

    BTW, the classes I am teaching from you book at Whole Foods in Overland Park, KS are an overwhelming success! Thanks so much for permission. We are scheduling them every two weeks sometimes and they fill almost instantly. Can’t wait to get the new book and schedule classes around it. You offer so many possibilities and I love your website. Thanks for it all!

    1. Hi Joan,

      So glad the classes are going well! Thanks for spreading the word.

      In HBin5 we give a chart with all the weight equivalents for all the main flours, including rye and wheat.

      Thanks, Zoë

  21. This looks wonderful! Question for you…is there a way to print your posts with just the basic receipe information and not all the pictures? If I click on “print” at the top of the post it gives me everything, pics and all.

    1. Hi Tina,

      I think there is only the one way to print out the recipes. We’ll talk to our IT gurus and see if there is any way to change that feature!

      Thanks for the suggestion! Zoë

    1. Sarah: Brie sounds terrific, bet it would be about equal in consistency when melted.

      Jennifer: That’s exactly what VWG can do, in the context of a nice wet dough. BUT… whole grains tend to produce a tighter crumb, and the VWG was added to combat it. It still won’t be super-open though. That improves later in batch life. For the most open crumb, you could add VWG to whiter doughs, see Jeff

  22. Hi Jeff:
    I made this Delectable apple tart last night with an herb crust and the addition of a few shallots – it was absolutely fantastic. Definitely something I will make again and again.
    I’ve been perusing the new book and can’t wait to start baking!
    For bread, I’ve always had a bit of an issue getting a nice hole-y crumb – do you think the addition of the vital what gluten in the new healthy recipes will give me a better crumb?
    Thanks so much for the fantastic recipes. I never thought I’d be a baker, but I am loving it!

  23. About printing recipes…I often print recipes from the internet, from many sources, to put into my recipe file in the kitchen. If you go to the “print” version, then “select all” (if it’s available…try the right mouse button menu), copy, and drop it into a Word file. Then I can delete the ads and photos that I don’t need, and just have my recipe for reference. I don’t edit out the URL line–that way I always know where I found the recipe!

  24. I have had trouble with my wheat berries not soaking up enough of the water while it is refrigerated. I left the dough in the frig. the full 24 hours the first time and 48 hours the second time. They were fairly tough and white inside when the bread was cut. Is there a certain type of wheat berry that I should use? Thanks.

    1. Christie: No: I’m guessing that your wheat berries aren’t as fresh as the ones that we tested with, which were bought at a food coop. I’m guessing you could get by with a pre-soak in water for 24 hours before starting with the dough mixing. Or even briefly boil them in water.

      Long storage gradually dehydrates unground grain, making it harder and harder over time. Jeff

  25. I made this last night, with the Broa dough from the first book, subbing out one cup of wheat flour for one cup of all purpose, for a party, and adding one T of mixed herbs to a full batch.
    It was beautiful! Thanks so much!

    1. If you use a half-pound of dough rather than a pound, you’ll have an easier time of it. That spreads to about 12 inches across. Details are in the post above…

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