|bad photo, excellent tart|
Ever since my Belgian exchange student days, I've loved apple and custard confections, and something really struck me in Dorie's recollection of her first attempt at making the tart. "This tart was a revelation...it seemed remarkable, if not downright unbelievable that I, a beginning baker...could make something with flavor and texture authentic enough to transport me to the world capital of pastry. It was the encouragement I needed to keep baking." (Emphasis mine.)
That, in a nutshell, is how I have grown to feel about many of the recipes in Baking. Really minimal effort can sometimes yield incredible returns - chief among them the feeling that you can accomplish something amazing in your own little kitchen.
All I had to do was press some sweet tart dough into a pan (I didn't partially bake it, though), slice one gigantic, one-pounder apple and spread the slices in a moderately attractive fashion, and pour a simple whisked custard base over the top. A bit less than an hour later, I was transported. I hope that if you made this this week, you were too!
Alsatian Apple Tart from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
- 1 pound medium-size firm sweet apples, such as Golden Delicious
- 1 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough (page 444) or Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts (page 444), partially baked and cooled
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- About 1/3 cup apple jelly, plus 1 teaspoon water, for glazing, or confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Peel the apples, cut them in half from top to bottom and remove the cores. Cut the apple halves lengthwise into thick slices (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) - you'll probably get about 12 slices from each - and lay them in the tart shell, arranging them in overlapping concentric circles and mounding a few slices in the center. If the apples stick up above the rim of the crust, so much the better.
In a 1-quart measuring cup with a spout (for convenience), whisk together the cream, sugar, whole egg, yolk and vanilla, and pour the mixture over the apples. (If you had big apples or lots of them, you might not use all the custard - don't force it; the custard should come just below the crust's rim.)
Bake the tart for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the apples can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife and the custard is set. (If a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean, it's done.) Transfer the tart to a rack and allow it to cool to just a tad above room temperature or to room temperature.
If you want to glaze the tart, bring the jelly and water to a boil. Using a pastry brush, or, better yet, a pastry feather (custard is delicate) and a light touch, cover the top of the tart with the hot jelly. If the apples and custard have separated, use the glaze to fill in the cracks. If you are not glazing the tart, just dust the top generously with confectioners' sugar.
Makes 6 servings.
Serving: Resist the temptation to eat this tart when it is warm - it really needs time to come together and to have the apple juices beat a retreat back into the apples.
Storing: Serve this tart soon after it is made, and certainly on the same day; keep it longer, and it will get soggy.
Playing Around: This tart is good made with pears. Make sure to pat them dry with paper towels before you lay them into the crust - pears are juicier than apples and their juices can slow the settling of the custard. When summer rolls around, the tart is good with peaches, which must be peeled, as well as apricots. If you use apricots, add 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract to the custard - it will reinforce the fruit's flavor - and glaze the tart with apricot jam. With round fruits, like apricots and peaches, you can, if you'd like, forgo the slicing and just halve and pit the fruit, then lay the halves into the crust rounded side up.
Next week: REWIND
Last week: Fall Butternut Squash Pie AND Mini Madeleines