The title is true. I made it only as something to stuff in my mouth as I waited for a ride to campus…at 8:30 pm. No, I am not the person who hits the libraries full-time a week before school starts. Instead, I’m the caffeine-high giggly kid who takes pleasure in giving out glow-sticks and balloons to people who succeed in tossing bottle caps into shot glasses or building upside-down triangles using cups and paper plates.
Yep. My school held an on-campus carnival/party the other night.
From an environmentalist perspective, I was actually impressed by how little litter there was when I left the place (but I did leave before the crowd was completely dispersed). From a germaphobic perspective, having all the students grab cotton candy using their bare hands because there were no more sticks to whirl the sugary mess around was slightly unsanitary (I did it anyways). From a claustrophobic perspective, having hundreds of people yelling, crowd-surfing, and “dancing” in a massive swarm might not have been the best way to conclude a week.
But from my perspective, it was simply fun. You hardly have any other time during the school year when all University students (from the chemistry grad student who claimed to be an “ex-model for Vogue” to my newest friends J– and L–) can come together into such a mass and have a thundering party at the Red Square in the middle of campus. There is practically no one who can walk to their classes without passing Red Square.
To think that in a few weeks I’ll be carrying my 14 (and more) pounds of textbooks around the Square, stepping in muddy puddles right where lights were flashing and people dancing on a September night.
But before the exhilarating night, I baked an apple tart.
Easiest Apple Tart (From Smitten Kitchen)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water
2 pounds apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan or pie dish, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400 F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)
OVERLAP apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.
BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 1 tablespoon over apples.
BAKE in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.
REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.
Due to my impromptu baking, I expected it to be a hard crust with oozing apples inside, but it turned out flaky with soft, caramelized apple slices. Strange.
Unexpected things are often the best things that can ever happen to you. I met one of my best friends J– because I literally collided into her en route to greeting another school acquaintance at summer camp some years ago. That’s how we said “Oomph…hi!” and sat by each other, and talked to each other, and grew to know each other inside out. Meeting a friend by having a pedestrian-pedestrian collision? Well…
I also came back from an overnight camp, well stocked with laugh-until-you-can’t-breathe moments, Wild Cherry Pepsi, Red Vines, and Cheetos, expecting to have added on to that body mass due to my sedentary nature from trying to stay up all night. Weirdly enough, playing Banana-grams and busting out horrific dance moves in front of my pals actually subtracted some of that mass.
We all have these gorgeous surprises waiting in small packages along our roads of life. Hope you’ll find something unexpectedly nice soon.