What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
Me? I’m grateful for good health, great friends and family, and a writing career, that though a wild roller-coaster ride at times, has brought enormous satisfaction, wonderful opportunities, and a contingent of loyal, supportive readers who are the very best anyone could ever ask for.
And I’m glad for “Apple Custard Tart.” Because it’s equally delicious and appropriate for the Thanksgiving feast or for the lazy, spent morning after.
Don’t rush out to the mall that Friday. Instead, enjoy a slice of this pretty tart with a cup of coffee or tea, and a retelling of the fun, delightful moments that happened during the holiday night before.
This straightforward recipe is from “Butter Celebrates! Delicious Recipes For Special Occasions” (Knopf), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Rosie Daykin, owner of Butter Baked Goods in Vancouver.
As the title implies, the cookbook is all about treats perfect for marking any special event. The recipes are arranged by occasion, such as “Chocolate Cake for Two” for Valentine’s Day, “Eggnog-less Bars” for Christmas, and “Dark Chocolate Cherry Loaf” for welcoming a new neighbor.
“Apple Custard Tart” can indeed be found under the Thanksgiving recipes. Start by making the dough for the tart crust. The recipe will make enough for two tart crusts. You only need one for the apple tart, so freeze the other one for another use or just cut the recipe in half like I did.
The recipe calls for 4 medium-sized apples. Maybe my apples were larger, but I found I only needed 3 apples. Peeled, cored, and cut thinly, the slices are fanned across the bottom of the tart shell with their rounded edges curved upward.
Sugar, flour, salt, cream and eggs are combined to make the custard, which is slowly poured into the tart shell. I added the part about using a ladle to do so, as it is the easiest way to control the amount of custard poured over. You want to do it slowly so that the custard has a chance to fill in all the gaps between the apples.
The tart bakes up with a pretty, rustic look. It’s chock full of tender apples with a thin layer of delicate custard on an almost shortbread cookie-like crust. You expect the taste of the cinnamon, but the cardamom surprises with its beguiling citrusy-spicy note.
Whether you enjoy a slice with coffee or a nice glass of Calvados, you’ll be thanking your blessings in the sweetest of ways.
Apple Custard Tart
(Makes 1 9-inch tart, serves 8 to 10)
One (9-inch) “Simply Tart Dough” shell (see recipe below)
4 medium-sized tart apples
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
Prepare the dough for a 9-inch tart shell, rolling it out, then transferring it to the pan. Roll the rolling pin across the top of the tart pan to trim the tart shell and leave a nice clean edge. Roll your docker over the bottom of the shell or prick the pastry with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the apples by using a small paring knife to peel and cut them in quarters. Once quartered, trim any core from each section. Cut each quarter into 1/8-inch slices. It is best if you can keep your slices uniform in shape and size so they sit nicely in the tart shell.
Place the apple slices in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Use your hands to gently lift the apple slices to coat them in the sugar mixture, taking care not to break them. Set aside. Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles in the tart shell.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until apples start to color. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, salt, cream and eggs.
Place the tart pan on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper before pouring the custard mixture carefully over the top of the apples. Pour slowly with a ladle to allow the custard to work its way under the apples. If you pour too quickly it may spill over the edges of the tart shell, making the tart difficult to remove from the pan once it’s baked.
Return the tart to the oven and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the custard has set and your tart shell is a light golden brown.
Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 1 hour before removing from the tart pan and slicing.
Simply Tart Dough
(Makes 2 9-inch tart shells)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 egg yolks
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks and egg one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and salt. Beat to combine.
Divide the dough in half, shape it into disks and wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Remove a disk of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick, adding more flour to the work surface as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
Carefully fold your dough in quarters and transfer it to the tart pan. Gently unfold the dough and press it lightly into the pan. Not to worry if your dough breaks or cracks when you are transferring it. Simply position it in the pan and press gently to push it back together. This pastry is very forgiving.
Roll the rolling pin across the top of the tart pan to trim the tart shell and leave a nice clean edge. Roll your docker over the bottom of the shell or prick the pastry with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming when baking.
Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the tart shell is a nice golden brown.
Remove the tart shell from the oven, allow to cool slightly in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Note: This dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for several days.
Adapted from “Butter Celebrates!” by Rosie Daykin
More Apple Recipes to Try: Apple-Stuffed Biscuit Buns
And: Apple Brownies