Apple custard tart

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

Ingredients
(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
1 egg
50g caster sugar
25g sifted plain flour
150ml double cream
A glug of Scotch whisky
Icing sugar to dust

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (or just leave it on if you’ve been blind-baking your pastry case)
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. Arrange the (now slightly cooler) cooked apples in the pastry shell, and pour the custard mixture over
  6. 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.
  7. 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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