I figured out at an early age that baking is always a good idea. No matter the time of day or night, people welcome all manner of confections. There were times in high school when an oh so weepy and just slightly angsty Mary would be found in the kitchen during the wee hours of the morning whipping up loaves, pies, cookies, and cakes.
This tart has been a go-to for me since those early high school days and has gotten me through many a broken heart, school induced anxiety, and the occasional sulk.
It's crisp & creamy, just sweet enough, and, no matter the time of year, reminds me of autumn which is always a good thing.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
Vanilla Pastry Cream:
1 ½ cup milk
6 tbsp sugar
2 ½ tsp cornstarch
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla
Apples*, cored and very thinly sliced
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
For the crust, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt; pulse to combine.
Add the butter and pulse to cut in. You’re looking for the mixture to resemble very coarse bread crumbs with some chunks of butter about the size of a pea.
Mix the egg and milk, pour over the flour/butter mixture, and pulse to combine.
Dump the dough onto a piece of cling film, wrap, and press the dough together.
Place the dough in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
When ready to make the tart, take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. This will make it much easier to work with without allowing the butter to soften too much.
While resting, adjust your oven rack to the upper third of your oven and preheat the to 400F.
Roll out your dough to ¼” thickness and place in a 10” removable bottom tart pan.
Dock the bottom of the crust by poking it about a dozen times with a fork, wrap the outer bottom of the tart pan with tin foil to avoid butter leaking out, and pop it back in the fridge for about 10 minutes to chill.
Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and continue to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the crust is evenly golden.
Remove from the oven and allow crust to cool.
For the pastry cream, in a medium saucepan combine milk with 3 tablespoons sugar and place over medium heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cornstarch and pinch of salt.
Quickly whisk in the egg yolks and set aside until milk is scalded (very hot and almost simmering).
Once milk is scalded, slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the yolks.
After all of the milk has been combined, return the mixture to the pot and heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 3-5 minutes).
Once thick, remove pastry cream from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla until combined.
Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve to catch any cooked egg.
Cool the mixture to use in the apple tart.
To finish the tart, preheat the oven to 350F.
Evenly spread the cooled pastry cream into the cooled crust and arrange the thinly sliced apples on top in whatever fashion you fancy.
Mix up the cinnamon sugar and sprinkle on top.
Bake the tart for approximately 5 – 7 minutes to soften the apples.
Cool to room temperature or in the fridge and serve.