…and clearly I’m pretty childish because I’m giggling about it. Tarts, tarts, tarts, tarts, tarts. It’s not even a part of American slang, somehow skipping us in favor of other unsavory terms for promiscuous women, yet here I am, smiling idiotically to myself as my husband rolls his eyes like there’s something wrong with me.
According to Wikipedia, in the kitchen,:
A tart is a baked dish consisting of a filling over a pastry base with an open top not covered with pastry. The pastry is usually shortcrust pastry; the filling may be sweet or savoury, though modern tarts are usually fruit-based, sometimes with custard.
Certainly not as salacious as the ladies who bear the same names.
I spent some of my “free” time yesterday preparing all-butter pie dough, a la smitten kitchen, with no real plan for it. I felt like it, so I made it, knowing the plan would reveal itself when the time was right. Or something like that. And I was right because through divine intervention, tarts have been on my mind all day. Either I’m in for a really sweet treat, or I have a very dirty mind…
In all seriousness, when I was on the verge of turning 21, I worked as a baker’s assistant at a local bakery for 2 months. One of my jobs was to transport the freshly-baked bread from the main location to its satellite shop about forty minutes away. Once the bread was safely conveyed, my new mission was to ferry tart shells back to the main shop so my aunt (the pastry chef) could fill them. I never really questioned how they were made or even what my aunt did with them. My job, once the tarts were ready, was to finish them for display–arrange fruit, paint on an apricot glaze, that sort of thing. And I really didn’t think about them much in the intervening years either. I had a tart pan in the back of the bottom cabinet in my pantry but I don’t think I’ve even used it. This is a project begging to be completed!
I decided on the Alsatian Apple Tart from Chicho’s Kitchen, substituting the pre-made all-butter pie crust from smitten kitchen for the one in the recipe, which is pretty similar anyway. The recipe is simple, requiring very few ingredients and not a whole lot of work, but it looks like you slaved away all day in the kitchen. And the taste? I was worried because I’m not really an egg person. I was pleasantly surprised. Delicate custard surrounding tart and sweet apples, perfectly complemented by crunchy, buttery crust. Delicious! I feel almost civilized now! Almost…
Alsatian Apple Tart
adapted from Chicho’s Kitchen
smitten kitchen’s all-butter pie crust (link brings you to her tutorial), or
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
9 Tbsp (125 g) cold butter, cut into pieces
2 Tbsp cold water
In a large bowl, mix the flour, butter, sugar, and salt with your fingertips or a pastry blender until you have pea-sized chunks of butter. Quickly stir the water into the mixture, being careful not to overmix. Once there are no dry spots, gather up the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press it into a flat dish shape. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours (or overnight is better).
When ready to use, preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Butter the bottom and side of a tart pan with a removable bottom. Flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a circle slightly larger than your pan. Gently fold the dough in half and then half again, bring it over to your pan and then unfold it directly onto the pan. Trim the excess.
For the filling:
1 pound medium sized sweet apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used Granny Smith and Gala)
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (if you go with the vanilla bean, scrape it into the cream and let the seeds sit in the cream for 10 minutes or more before mixing)
Layer the peeled and sliced apples on the bottom of the dough-lined pan. In a bowl, mix the eggs and sugar, then add the cream and the vanilla extract. Pour on top of the apples and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.