This is for fans of both the apple tart and the custard tart. Put them both together and what do you get? A French Apple Custard Tart from Alsace, sheer bliss with a touch of grated nutmeg or cinnamon. It’s so easy to make – especially if you cheat – oh-là-là! – and buy ready-made pastry.
An Egg Yolk Recipe for Saving Egg Whites
Ever since I became literally ‘Mad About Macarons’, and was making these confections like some kind of mad woman for friends, dinner parties, our greedy selves and for the books, I found myself hunting down egg yolk recipes.
If you’re a home baker and love making Parisian macarons, financier teacakes, tuiles, lemon meringue tarts and this light chocolate mousse without cream, you’ll know the eggs-act delicious problem. What do these recipes have in common? They all need egg whites, not whole eggs.
So, I need recipes that use up just the egg yolks. This one is perfect for my growing egg yolk recipe collection: it uses 4 yolks! It’s a never-ending delicious cycle.
French Custard Tart
Scouring through my all-time favourite coffee-table book, France the Beautiful Cookbook (1989) by the Scotto Sisters (which is now well and truly covered in splatters and its tattered cover is ripped, bless it), I first made the ‘Tarte aux Pommes à l’Alsacienne’ and loved its scrumptious simplicity.
Over time, I adapted this French Apple Custard Tart by reducing the sugar and alternating between the cinnamon with nutmeg, just like I remember the custard egg tarts I had when I grew up in Scotland. It’s a real family pleaser for dessert and great at any time of year – I discovered recently that many of you love making this for Thanksgiving too!
Easy Tart Pastry Base
This recipe is made easier if you buy ready-prepared sweet pastry dough.
However, I do urge you to make your own sweet classic tart pastry if you have time (here’s my quick tart base recipe). Adding that extra touch of vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon in the pastry base had even my cinnamon-avoiding husband ask for a THIRD slice – and, as a Frenchman, he’s careful about his dessert intake!
For details on how to make your own homemade tarts and tartlets, I have a whole chapter devoted to making them, with down-to-earth, step-by-step instructions in my French home-baking book, Teatime in Paris.
An Easy Way to Blind-Bake the Pastry – with Apples
Another reason I love this recipe? The classic technique of blind-baking the pastry beforehand is cleverly replaced by simply laying out the apples and baking them before adding the filling. It’s a lazy way of blind-baking the tart first.
The filling couldn’t be simpler: just whisk the whole lot together, pour on top of the apples then bake further until the topping looks beautifully brown and custardy.
I also love adding a good pinch of ground nutmeg either in the pastry base or in the filling – or both! Nutmeg is delicious with our best loved custard tarts I grew up with in Scotland. Personally, nutmeg does the toe-curling for me, giving it that je ne sais quoi to a custard tart with apples. If you prefer cinnamon, then use that (have you tried the Portuguese Pasteis de Nata Custard Tarts, sprinkled with cinnamon on top?).
One Large Apple Custard Tart, 2 Medium Tarts or 8 Tartlets
The recipe below makes one large tart using a deep 28cm (11 inches) tart tin. It also makes 2x16cm (6.5 inches) tarts with one extra tartlet – handy if you’re giving away one – or even 2 – as a present. Otherwise it makes enough for 8 tartlets.
I use non-stick tart tins and tart rings but if you have regular tins, then grease first with a little butter.
How to Make a French Apple Custard Tart
Adapted from ‘France the Beautiful Cookbook’ by the Scotto Sisters – I added nutmeg and reduced the sugar in the custard filling.
PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW. What I love about this recipe is the crisp pastry and the creaminess of the custard with the apples shining through.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Makes one 28cm (11 inch) tart; or 8 tartlets; or 2x 16cm tarts
275g/10oz sweet pastry (with a good pinch ground cinnamon)
2-3 apples (Golden Delicious)
4 organic egg yolks
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg or cinnamon
pinch vanilla powder or few drops of vanilla extract
200ml/7 floz double cream/crème fleurette (30% fat)
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F (gas 7). Butter a 25cm tart tin (no need to butter if using non-stick moulds) or tart ring. Roll out the pastry dough larger than the tart tin (about 4cm larger) and press into the tin. Chill in the fridge.
2. Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter into 4 slices and arrange them evenly over the pastry. Start from the outside and arrange the slices in the form of a flower then make a smaller 2nd layer to fill in the gaps. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, using a hand whisk or fork, beat the egg yolks, sugar, nutmeg (or cinnamon), vanilla and cream. Pour over the apples and bake for about a further 30 minutes (20-25 minutes for tartlets) or until the topping is deliciously custardy with typical brown patches.
There’s no need for any ice cream or cream; enjoy on its own served warm for the perfect teatime treat, dessert or even breakfast. If you want to decorate, dust with a little icing/confectioner’s sugar, top with grapes or an edible flower.
French Apple Custard Tart Recipe
French Apple Custard Tart
- 275 g (10oz) sweet pastry with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2-3 apples (Golden Delicious)
- 4 medium egg yolks (organic)
- 75 g (2.5oz/ 1/3 cup) sugar (about 1/3 cup)
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg or cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or few drops extract
- 200 ml (7floz/¾ cup) crème fleurette (30% fat) (or heavy cream)
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F (gas 7). Butter a 28cm/11" tart tin (no need to butter if using non-stick moulds) or tart ring. Roll out the pastry dough evenly, larger than the tart tin (about 4cm larger) and press well into the tin. Chill in the fridge.
- Peel the apples, cut into quarters and core them. Cut each quarter into 4 slices and arrange them evenly over the pastry, starting from the outside and arrange the slices in the form of a flower. Make a second smaller layer to fill in any gaps. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, using a hand whisk or fork, beat the egg yolks, sugar, nutmeg (or cinnamon), vanilla and cream. Pour over the apples and bake for about a further 30 minutes (20-25 minutes for tartlets) or until the top has delicious custardy brown patches.
This post was originally published on 25 October 2015 and is now updated with new photos and more explanatory recipe steps.