It’s a steaming hot night so of course, I decided to bake. I wanted to bake apple tarts with almond cream from a Food and Wine recipe. The top one is made with Asian pear while the one on the bottom is Granny Smith apple. The almond cream inside these tarts is made of chopped almonds, butter, eggs, a bit of flour and sugar, and a tablespoon of rum. Both tarts are liberally sprinkled with turbinado sugar and ready to go into the hot oven. These tartlettes were ready in 30 minutes rather than the 1 hour baking time. The crust was flaky and the almond cream was lightly sweet. And the fruit! Oh, the Asian pear is a fruit I’ve come to respect as something versatile enough to eat raw in a salad and baked up in a tart.
Baked Pastry Shell
Prep time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons (2 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. Add the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse just until the dough holds together when pinched. If needed, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of ice
water to the dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 1 hour.
Cake Baker’s Note: I didn’t have a 9 inch tart pan but I had two eight-inch non-stick tartlette pans. I divided the dough between them. It tore in places but I used the extra dough to patch it.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Push a rolling pin over the top to trim any overhang. Prick the bottom in several places with a fork.
Cake Baker’s Note: I didn’t have pie weights so I used dried beans. Improvise!
Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 25 minutes, until the shell is lightly colored around the edges. Remove the foil and weights and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden. Let cool before filling.
Cake Baker’s Note: The tartlettes did not need the extra 10 minutes, so I skipped this step. It’s best to go with how the shell looks rather than follow the recipe exactly. And because I was anxious to get to the next step, I popped the pastry shells in the freezer to speed up the cooling. While they were cooling I made the filling.
Apple Tart with Almond Cream
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
1 cup slivered almonds (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter, for brushing
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon dark rum
Baked Pastry Shell
1 Asian pear and 1 Granny Smith apple peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 golden delicious apples in original recipe)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, process 3/4 cup almonds until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse the remaining 1/4 cup almonds, until coarsely chopped–about four or five pulses. Transfer to the bowl. Add the granulated sugar, flour and salt and toss gently to combine.
In another bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the 4 tablespoons of butter until creamy. Add the almond mixture all at once and beat until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the rum. At this stage, the almond cream has the most wonderful smell.
Spread the almond filling in the Baked Pastry Shell. Arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles. Brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar.
Cake Baker’s Note: I skipped the melted butter.
Bake the tart for 1 hour, until the filling is set and the apples are browned and tender. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool slightly. Remove the ring (if your tart pan is two piece) and serve the tart warm or at room temperature.
Cake Baker’s Note: My tarts were ready in 30 minutes. I recommend checking the tart after 30 minutes to see if additional baking time is needed. A tester inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few crumbs attached. If it is still moist and shiny, give it another 5 minutes.
The baked pastry shell can be made a day ahead. The tart can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature for a day. But in Bangkok’s heat, I’d refrigerate it.