Sweetness and Light: Apple Vanilla Tart

My boy is suddenly into baking. It started with some muffins from the Hummingbird Bakery book (still the standard text for him), then he graduated to lemon-drizzle cake, then a simple plum cake, and so on (all enjoyed by his classmates at school, where he can get even more applause than at home). He found this recipe of mine, and made it on his own, amazing and delighting us. (Tip: The best apples  are Pippins, Gravensteins, Granny Smiths, or Winesaps, anything but Golden Delicious, which are too bland.) The
pastry recipe is a basic sweetened dough, or as the French call it, pâte brisée sucrée. It can also be made by hand. Frozen dough from the supermarket is also not bad these days. The vanilla is just enough to add a tantalizing hint of richness.

Makes one 10-inch tart; serves 6 to 8

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 pound unsalted butter, well-chilled, cut into 6 pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
2 or 3 tablespoons ice water

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
6 tart apples (see note above), peeled, cored, and cut into 8 slices each
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the crust: In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the water and  pulse on and off until the mixture has the consistency of small peas, about 10 or 15 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add water till the mixture forms a ball. Remove the dough. Place on a lightly floured surface and form into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day. Preheat the oven to 400F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Fit into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Run a rolling pin over the top edge to trim off the dough. Prick holes in the bottom with a fork. Line the tart with a piece of aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until just set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the foil and weights, and let cool completely.

To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. In a large, heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add half the brown sugar and stir well. Add the apples and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until softened and golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a bowl. Reduce heat and leave the syrup in the pan to caramelize slightly for about 2 minutes. Then, arrange the apples in the crust in concentric circles. Drizzle the caramelized syrup over them.

In a large bowl, whisk the cream, remaining brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together. Pour the cream mixture over the apples. Bake until the top is set and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes.


Donna Walsh said...

Help - I am making your Tiger Prawns and Celery risotto and do no know if your requirement for two stalks of celery is the full (12 rib) stalk or you really meant two single ribs.


Brian St. Pierre said...

It should be two single ribs, and I should be made to go and stand in the corner for making a dumb mistake like that--thanks, enjoy!