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Why apple custard tart? Because this one is thrown together in minutes and gives big ‘oohs’ for the holidays.

If there ever was a crunchtime… Stacks of stacks printed out, torn out recipes that once were Christmas hopefuls until the wrapping devil bitchslapped the week – wasn’t that one of the lines from Twas the night? Oh yeah, and that little thing we call World Xmas, you know, every year we celebrate the Christmas traditions from another country see here and here – 24 years and counting – is now a gathering the Sunday before. What in the World were we thinking? This year, we were thinking Scotland. Kilts and whisky tasting aside, the night was a blast and the tradition will grow.

still life

Now it’s time to work on Christmas Eve buffet dinner including our apple custard tart,

and it takes a village.

Ours will include glazed ham from my absolute favorite recipecreated by a guy named Monte who’s been in charge of my hams for years, buttermilk biscuits inspired by The Pioneer Woman, an Ottolenghi salad or two – still deciding, and a new fave for me but longstanding for many Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad – more farro than salad btw. Dan will concoct the signature cocktail out of Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, Make it Ahead– if there ever was a crunchtime cookbook… My mother-in-law will graciously prepare the potato gratin I’ve made forever from anunassuming cookbook by Patricia Wells, who had nabbed it from a French ferme auberge (farm inn) chef, Madame Laracine. Patti will bring a luscious pear and walnut salad and her famous homemade pumpkin pie to which I’ll add this French Apple Custard Tart, made popular this season by Dorie Greenspan in her new book, Baking Chez Moi, which I hope is under my tree. Shecalls this a “back-pocket recipe” which I think couldn’t be more perfect for the holidays when all of your front pockets are full.

Happy, Merry and we’ll see you next week when I hope your pockets have emptied and your hearts are full.

voilà, apple custard tart

Not quite custard, not quite tart. The balance of eggs and flour make this a creamy apple desert with just the right amount of crispiness. What’s off-balance – the ease to outcome scale. You’ll marvel at how little effort can produce an amazing patisserie quality dessert.

preptime: 20 minutes makes one 8×8 tart

  • butter (for the pan)
  • 3 medium juicy sweet apples (Gala or Fuji)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp. milk (whole best)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (melted and cooled, but still liquid)
  • Confectioner’s sugar

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Peel the apples and, using a mandoline, slice them thinly, turning the fruit when you reach the core. The slices should be quite thin but not so thin that they’re transparent or fragile. Discard the cores.

3. In a bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder to blend them.

4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the eggs are pale. Whisk in the vanilla, then the milk and melted butter. Add the flour and whisk until the batter is smooth. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the apples until each slice is coated with batter.

5. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top as evenly as you can. It will still be bumpy.

6. Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes or until it is golden and uniformly puffed. The middle of the cake will have risen and a skewer inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool. Cut into squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

1 Comment

  1. Nancy says Dec 26th 2014 4:53 pm


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