Remember a few weeks back when I talked about “procrastibaking”. I mentioned that when I “procrastibake” I like to make tarts. They are great for “procrastibaking” because you can really lose yourself in composing a tart.
That’s what I call it “composing” a tart. It might sound a little fussy to say that but it’s true. To me they are pastry paintings some more involved then others.
When I taught at Le Cordon Bleu, I even had a “how to compose a tart” handout. I loved writing handouts - that one had drawings.
Former students who read the blog - you might have one buried in one of those notebooks we used to make you create.
Tarts are composed - we have crust, filling and sometimes topping or garnish as our components. Once we have all the components we go to work, shaping pastry, filling perfectly and then topping. That’s what takes time - especially fruit tarts - that’s where baking perfectionism can really get a workout.
Today’s tart is topping with apple slices that have been thinly sliced and tossed in sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. I cut the apples on a Japanese mandoline called a Benringer (use the guard) - they can also be cut by hand with a sharp knife but be careful.
I used Granny Smiths but you can use your favorite apple - with the exception of Red Delicious and Macintosh.
And lastly the dough makes just enough to fill a 9” fluted tart pan - it is essentially shortbread which is very fragile so you will might start by rolling it out and then patting it into the pan and up the sides - make sure no metal of the pan is showing through. If this seems like too much you can use a smaller tart pan or a flan ring (I have photos below). However, if you like a challenge try the 9” pan - the dough weight weighed 9 1/2 ounces (269g) and there was not a gram of dough left on my pastry board.
The other thing which might seem strange is that I do not partially bake this dough- just fill and bake the chilled crust. It works - the crust will not be raw under the cream cheese filling.
Which means this tart can be put together quickly - if you need a dessert in a few hours - this could be a contender.
I hope you like this tart and add it to your recipe repertoire - it is sure to garner rave reviews
Happy Baking! Colette
Equipment: Stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, bowl scraper, plastic wrap, rolling pin, 9” fluted tart pan with removable bottom, aluminum foil
4 Ounces (113g) Unsalted butter, cut up
1 1/2 ounces (43g) Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
4.5 ounces (128g) Unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Fine sea salt
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract for 2 minutes just until the sugar and butter is combined - the butter should not lighten in color.
Whisk together the flour and salt and add to the butter and sugar. Mix on low speed just until the flour disappears.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten and refrigerate for one hour. Dough can be made a day ahead or frozen up to one month.
After an hour, roll the dough out onto a light floured board. Chill while making filling and apple topping.
Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking tray with foil and preheat it too. Your tart will go on top of the hot aluminum foil lined tray.
Cream Cheese Filling
Equipment: Mini (3 cup minimum) or full size food processor, spatula, microplane or zester
12 ounces (340g) Cream cheese, cut up into 1” pieces
3 1/2 ounces (99g) Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Combine the cream cheese and sugar in the food processor, fitted with the metal blade.
Mix for 1 minute, stop and scrape down. Add vanilla extract and zest. Mix for 1 minute, stop and scrape down.
Add the egg and mix for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down - the mixture should be smooth. If not, scrape down and mix for another 30 seconds.
Pour filling into tart shell.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. And place a sheet tray lined with foil in the oven to preheat. Your tart will be placed on the hot tray - this helps the crust bown.
3 Medium Apples - peeled, thinly sliced (1/8” thick) and placed in a medium sized bowl
1 1/2 ounce (43g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg and cardamom
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Pour over sliced apples and toss gently to coat.
Carefully arrange circles of apples over the filling, overlapping a little and covering all the filling. Place the tart carefully on the hot, foil lined tray.
Bake at 350 for 35-50 minutes. Ok it takes forever - because 350 is not that hot. After 30 minutes if the apples are over browning on the edges then cover with a piece of foil, shiny side down and bake until the filling is set, the apples look slightly softened and the crust is golden brown. I set the timer for 8 minutes intervals - mine took 50 minutes total .
The tart will keep in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for 3 days.