So, I’ve seen Julie and Julia. We all have, or we wouldn’t be reading and writing food blogs, right? I had the book of Mastering the Art of French Cooking before I saw the film (and incidentally, if you’re a foodie looking for an amazing book to add to your Christmas gift list, ask Santa for Julia Child’s autobiography – it’s everything you’d hope for), but the film prompted me to pick it up again. I love the wine matches, the little judgments on what constitutes an appropriate occasion to serve a particular dish, the perfectly manicured demo drawings, Julia’s general sass, everything. And obviously there are some stunning recipes in there. The pastry, which I’ve mentioned in a few different posts (lazy weekday quiche, raspberry frangipane tart), is to die for.
This recipe for apple custard tart feels completely underrated; it’s buried on page 600-and-something as a variation on a section about tarts and flans, but it’s just beautiful. It also happens to be an (often welcome) antidote to the heavier puddings and desserts you get this time of year – it’s light and pretty but the cinnamon (and booze!) mean it’s still festive and warming. I love it.
My version uses Scotch whisky instead of Calvados: I’ve used an Aberlour or a Tomatin, both of which work nicely in baking (though I bet they all do, really).
Apple Custard Tart
(makes a 23cm tart)
One quantity of sweet shortcrust pastry, blind baked
2 medium sized cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into half moons
50g sugar – caster or demerara are perfect
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g caster sugar
25g sifted plain flour
150ml double cream
A glug of Scotch whisky
Icing sugar to dust
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (or just leave it on if you’ve been blind-baking your pastry case)
- Toss the chopped apples in a bowl with the first 50g of sugar, then either:
– Microwave them for 2-3 minutes (checking halfway) until they’re cooked, but still holding their shape
– Put the them in an ovenproof dish and cook gently in the bottom of the oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked but holding their shape
- Beat the egg and the second lot of sugar together with an electric whisky for about 3 minutes until the mixture is pale gold and forms ‘a ribbon’ of mixture when you lift the beaters out.
- Beat in the flour, followed by the cream, followed by the whisky – it’s important to do it in that order or the mixture won’t incorporate properly
- Arrange the (now slightly cooler) cooked apples in the pastry shell, and pour the custard mixture over
- Bake in the middle shelf for 10 minutes until the cream is puffing up, then remove it from the oven, dust it with icing sugar, and return for another 15-20 minutes. The tart is done when a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean.
- Serve warm with ice cream or pouring cream. Gorgeous.
This recipe was adapted from that featured on page 677 of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.
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