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.
I made this for Christmas Eve, a very special and collaborative meal with my ‘household’ family this year. It was easy enough to make while helping my teenagers cook their dishes. What a delicious and not too sweet way to end the meal. I added a sprinkle of nutmeg to give it a festive touch. My 92 year-old Mother-in-law, who spent time in France as a teenager, thought it was simply divine. Thank you.Jenn
An Egg Yolk Recipe to Save 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 Apple Custard Tart Recipe
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 and nutmeg.
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 Crust
This recipe is made easier if you buy ready-made shortcrust pastry. I wouldn't recommend ready-made puff pastry. If you love puff, then it's better with this quick French apple tart.
However, I urge you to make your own pâte sucrée (sweet pastry dough) if you have time. This means you can add that extra touch of vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon in the pastry shell. Even my cinnamon-avoiding husband asks 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 also 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 isn't needed. Instead just lay out the apples and bake them with the pastry 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.
Add 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, sprinkle generously like in these Portuguese Pasteis de Nata Custard Tarts.
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
Recipe 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.
First make the pâte sucrée, following steps 1-5 but add a good pinch of cinnamon to the dough. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F (gas 7).
Roll out the pastry dough larger than the tart tin (about 3-4cm larger) and press into the tart tin or pastry ring. Chill in the fridge.
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.
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 or until the topping is deliciously custardy with typical brown patches.
How Best to Serve
We enjoy this tart on its own, simply served warm or at room temperature for the perfect teatime treat, dessert or even breakfast.
If you prefer something with it, then this is good with vanilla ice cream or
- chestnut and vanilla ice cream
- no-churn plombières (candied fruit) ice cream
- light crème anglaise (French custard) infused with chai tea
- dollop of Calvados cream for adults only.
To decorate, dust with a little icing/confectioner's sugar, top with grapes or an edible flower.
French Apple Custard Tart
- 275 g (10oz) sweet pastry with ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2-3 apples (Golden Delicious)
- 4 medium egg yolks (organic)
- 75 g (2.5oz/ ⅓ cup) sugar (about ⅓ cup)
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder or few drops extract
- 200 ml (7floz/¾ cup) crème fleurette (30% fat) (or heavy cream)
- Follow the recipe steps 1-5 for pâte sucrée. (No need to blind bake.)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 3-4cm larger) and press well into the tin. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F (gas 7).
- 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 a further 30 minutes (20-25 minutes for tartlets) or until the top has delicious custardy brown patches.
Pâte Sucrée Recipe (Sweet Pastry Dough)
- loose-bottomed tart tin or tart ring (27-28cm/11" diameter x 3cm)
- stand mixer with paddle attachment optional as dough can be mixed by hand
- Rolling Pin with optional end rings to roll out evenly
- baking beans or washed coins, rice or dried beans
- 125 g (4.5oz/½ cup) unsalted butter at room temperature (not melted), cut into cubes. Chilled if mixing by hand.
- 75 g (2.75oz/½ cup) icing/powdered/confectioner's sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt fleur de sel
- 1 medium egg organic (room temperature)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
- 240 g (8.5oz /1.9 cups) T45 French all-purpose/cake flour or plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle beater (otherwise mix by hand with cold butter), mix the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until pale and creamy.
- On low speed, gradually add the egg and flour and mix until combined. Half way during mixing, push the dough down the sides of the bowl and paddle with a spatula. Continue mixing just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and stop.
- Form the dough into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour. Normally you will only need ⅔ of this dough quantity - either freeze the rest or keep it chilled for up to 3 days.
- Remove from the fridge and after 5 minutes (as easier to work with), roll out the pastry to 3-4mm (⅛ inch) thickness on a lightly floured surface. When completely rolled out about 3cm (about an inch) bigger than the tart tin/ring, transfer the dough by rolling around the pastry roller and cover the tart tin. If using a tart ring, place the ring on baking paper or a silicone mat.
- Press well into the tart tin or ring, leaving no air holes around the edges. Trim off excess pastry by rolling over the edges with the rolling pin. Prick evenly with a fork.Leave to set in the fridge uncovered in the tin/ring for at least 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4/360°F.
- Blind bake (top with baking parchment and baking beans - see NOTES) for 15 minutes. Remove baking paper and beans.
- Bake uncovered for a further 5-10 minutes or until the pastry is golden. This step may be optional, depending on the recipe filling's instructions (such as this almond rum tart, which stays in the tin and is baked further with the filling in it).
- Leave to cool for about 5 minutes then remove from the tart tin/ring. Set aside on a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
This post was originally published on 25 October 2015 but now completely updated.