Ah, another installment of the WTISIM..... event hosted by Cooksister. This time around, she decided to strip it down to the bare essentials and go topless.......for the tart that is! I love a good apple tart and that is what I immediately thought about when I read this month's challenge. I was feeling a bit adventurous at the time and I decided I wanted to see what apples and thyme actually tasted like together. I found a good Alsatian Apple Tart recipe on a book I have and I decided I would infuse the cream for the custard with the thyme and mix it up that way. I did infuse the cream but at the last minute, I chickened out and made the custard plain. No complaints though, the tart was delicious.
I made it yesterday in the afternoon and by time I was done baking and cooling, it was dark outside and I don't like to take food photographs with artificial light so I left it till this morning. I got up and immediately shot the tart so I could eat it. Man was it good!!! I can only imagine how much better it must have been last night!
All wasn't smooth though during the making though, I was having a very off day. To start with, we lost the townhouse we were in the process of renting. After mixing up the pastry dough, I pushed the bowl full of it off the counter and all over the floor. Thankfully, the floor had just been cleaned so I picked it up and proceeded (that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger). After I had pressed all the dough onto the tart pan, I realized I hadn't buttered it! I went ahead anyway and baked the tart. When I pulled it out of the oven, as I was trying to transfer it from the baking sheet to the cooling rack, I dropped on the table. There was no damage but I was still at the brink of a screaming fit. If all that wasn't enough, I had to drive all over Miami just to find a bloody tart pan! I could not find one anywhere, then I remembered Williams-Sonoma and went there. Going there was taking a big risk considering Jimmy Choo is in the same mall! I went though and found the tart pan. I cannot believe there are no tart pans anywhere else!
After all that hassle, the tart looked like crap but it was delicious, even my mom said so. I'd definitely bake it again (although for slightly less time!) but I think I will wait until I'm over this cold and my luck has improved!
Alsatian Apple Tart
1 pound medium size firm sweet apples, such as Golden Delicious
1 9 inch tart shell, partially baked and chilled
3/4 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
about 1/3 cup apple jelly plus 1 teaspoon water for glazing
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Peel the apples, cut them in half from top to bottom and remove the cores. Cut the apple halves lengthwise into thick slices (about 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick) - you'll probably get about 12 slices from each - and lay them in the tart shell, arranging them in overlapping concentric circles and mounding a few slices in the center. If the apples stick up above the rim of the crust, so much the better.
In a 1 quart measuring cup with a spout (for convenience), whisk together the cream, sugar, whole egg, yolk and vanilla, and pour the mixture over the apples. If you had big apples or lots of them, you might not use all the custard, don't force it; the custard should come just below the crust's rim.
Bake the tart for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the apples can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife and the custard is set. Transfer the tart to a rack and allow it to cool to just a tad above room temperature or to room temperature.
Bring the jelly and water to a boil. Using a pastry brush and a light touch, cover the top of the tart with the hot jelly. If the apples and the custard have separated, use the glaze to fill in the cracks. If you are not glazing the tart, just dust the top generously with confectioner's sugar.
for the tart dough
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 oz) plus 1 tablespoon very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, confectioner's sugar and salt in a food processor (or electric mixer) and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse (or mix on low) until the butter is coarsely cut in - you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up and add a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses until the dough forms clumps. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
Butter a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Freeze the crust for at least 3o minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To partially bake the crust, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375°F.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Patch if necessary then transfer to a cooling rack (keep it in the pan).
To patch, take a thin piece of dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust.
That was along recipe!
While the tart was great, I can't help but wonder what it would have tasted like with the thyme infused custard.
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