Apple Tart

Big news, everybody! Huge news! Gigantic news!

Yesterday...... it was sunny.

Okay, yeah, not really big news for most people, but for the sun-deprived population of Vancouver, it was a massive deal. I'm not talking sunny with some clouds, maybe a bit of shade here and there, I'm talking full-on, no clouds, all day sunny. Unbelievable. 

Like almost everyone in Vancouver, I decided to go outside and enjoy the sun! I was a little ambitious and wore a thin shirt and my coat, thinking the sun would be enough to warm me. Not so much. It was a bit nippy, but I ignored it. I went outside in my brand new boots, my hat, and my sunglasses. I went up to the library and took out some books, strolled down to the grocery store, and then walked back home. 

The best part was that I walked by the local park on my way back home. It's a lovely park, green grass, evergreen trees, pathways, benches, all that good stuff. I see it often, but it's nothing too special. 

But seemingly out of nowhere, hundreds of crocuses had popped up! Over the empty flowerbeds, the grass around them, everywhere. It was really beautiful. It was almost a field of white, purple, and lilac flowers. Unfortunately, I didn't have my phone on me, so there's no photos.

Today, it's back to being rainy and miserable, but somehow it doesn't feel as gloomy as usual. Maybe it's the effects of the vitamin D from yesterday... Maybe that's also why I took so many photos this time.

Apple Tart
Recipe from Food of France

Sweet Pastry
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
small pinch of salt
150 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup icing (powdered) sugar
2 free range, organic eggs, beaten

Crème Pâtissière
6 free range, organic egg yolks
1/2 cup superfine (caster) sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 1/4 (560 mL) milk
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter

3 to 4 dessert apples, such as Gala or Pink Lady
1/4 cup apricot jam (optional)

To start, make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt directly onto a work surface or into a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry knife or use your fingers. The pieces of butter should be  the size of peas. Add the sugar and mix together. 

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the eggs in. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs until you cannot mix with a fork anymore. Using your hands, gently knead the dough until it comes together to make a smooth and slightly sticky dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

Take the pastry out of the fridge. Dust a work surface with flour. Roll out the dough to line a 9 inch tart tin. Trim the edges and pinch the pastry so it rises above the tart tin. The pastry will shrink considerably when baking. I found the recipe make more than enough pastry, so I used some of the leftover pastry to make a couple tartlets. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

While the pastry is chilling, make the crème pâtissière. Whisk together the egg yolks and half the sugar (1/4 cup) until pale and creamy. Add the cornstarch and flour and mix together.

Put the milk, remaining sugar, and vanilla bean in a saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to just a boil. Pour a ladle full of the milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the rest of the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture.

Rinse out the saucepan if you are using the same one, or get out another saucepan. Transfer the egg and milk mixture into the clean saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil again. It will be very lumpy at first, but it will smooth out as you stir. Boil for 2 minutes, then stir in the butter. Let it cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the pastry shell with a piece of crumpled parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or dried rice/beans). Blind bake for 10 minutes, remove the parchment and weights, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. 

While it is baking, peel and core your apples. Cut them in half and thinly slice them.

Fill the pastry shell with the crème pâtissière and smooth the top. Arrange the apple slices on the top. Bake the tart for 25 to 30 minutes or until the apples are golden and the pastry is cooked. Let the tart cool completely.

If using the apricot jam, melt it with 1 tablespoon of water and strain to remove any lumps. Brush over the top of the apples to make them shine.

I preferred not to use apricot jam, as I find it a bit too sweet. I melted about a teaspoon of butter and brushed the top of the apples with it instead.


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