ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Sugar Crust Shells” and “Custard Apple Tart/Tarte Normande Aux Pommes” from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child*
TIMING: I would give myself 1 1/2 hours, but most of this will be sort of calmly waiting for the next step or just meandering through the whole process
DIFFICULTY: Not hard, but experience is not going to hurt your final product
TOOLS: A tart pan, or a pie pan (if you must), and a food processor. Also, some sort of mixer, whether hand or stand. It would be nice if you had a kitchen torch
COOK TYPE: Oven, mixing and baking
HEALTH: As far as desserts go, I would say this is a pretty fairly “healthy” one. It has real fruit in it, and it’s pretty straight-forward as far as flour, sugar, butter. If you buy great ingredients you are going to have a superior tart. But no, it’s not health food. It’s dessert.
EXPERIENCE: As always seems to be the case in our house, we had some produce that was on its very last leg. This time, it was four or five green apples. Now, my husband loves apple pie to death, but I am one of those (most of the time) seasonal eaters. And not really on purpose. I just like certain foods at certain appropriate times of the year. Apple pie, to me, is always fall and winter.
So I was avoiding making apple pie while still trying to make everyone happy. So I thought, what about some sort of apple tart? One that is lighter and less spiced than a pie?
I found this, a pretty classic apple tart, and chose the custard version so that it would be less apple pie-y. In the end, it still screamed fall or winter to me, but my husband was very satisfied.
- In a food processor, mix 2/3 cup all purpose flour (or 1/2 AP and 1/3 spelt), 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Pulse in 4 tablespoons diced, cold, unsalted butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening until crumb forms.
- Add ice water by the tablespoon just until dough pulls away from the side of the processor, trying to form a ball.
- Remove dough and form it into a disc with your hands. Set it in a tart pan and push the dough evenly into the shape of the pan, going up the sides. Do not take too long doing this, as you want the dough to keep cold.
- Stab several times with a fork and set it in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 375F. Once preheated, bake for 15 minutes then remove.
- Meanwhile, peel and slice 4-5 tart apples (or a mixture of apples including tart). Slices should be thin, but not slivered thin.
- Quickly, toss the apples with 1/2 juiced lemon. Then toss with 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
- When the tart shell has come out of the oven, arrange the apples in a traditional tart pattern (or not. Just put them in there).
- Put the tart back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat 1 egg. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and beat until thick and pale. Beat in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup all purpose flour. Beat in 1/2 cup cream. Beat in 3 tablespoons apple brandy or cognac (or brandy, in a pinch).
- Once the apples have baked, carefully pour the custard mixture into the tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar and bake again for 20 minutes.
- When tart is done, brulee with a kitchen torch (or attempt the same thing in the oven broiler, with extreme caution).
Serve with coffee.
*Recipe has been changed from the original.