Tarte Normande or Apple Custard Tart

We are in the midst of apple season and though I often make apple galettes and apple tarts, I wanted to kick it up a notch.

Instead of rolling out the dough I wanted to try my hand at a press-in dough. I started by tweaking the amount of butter and flour. I was aiming for enough dough to easily press into the tart pan but not so much that the crust would be too thick. 

After tackling that detail it was on to the amount of cream needed which I deduced depends on how tightly you pack the apple slices. My next test will be adding almond flour either sprinkled on the bottom of the tart dough before arranging the apple slices or mixed into the custard batter.

Someone also suggested adding a bit of lemon zest to brighten up the apples; which I did in one test and they were correct. I doubt you would find lemon zest as part of a Tarte Normande in any French Patisserie. Luckily, I’m not bound to strict French pastry traditions, though some may disagree.

David Schmit Photography

For tart dough:
8 tablespoons (4 oz / 110 g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1/4 cup (1.75 oz / 50 g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup (5.75 oz / 160 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

For filling:
3 – 4 medium apples
2 large eggs
½ cup (3.5 oz / 100 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons raw can sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
3/4 – 1 cup (190 – 200 ml) heavy cream
50 g ground almonds (optional)
2 1/2 tablespoons calvados (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment mix together the butter, sugar, and salt on low-to-medium speed, until combined, about 1 minute. (Do not whip as you don’t want to incorporate air into the dough.) Add the egg yolk and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. 

Mix in the floor on low speed, until the dough comes together. If necessary, add a sprinkle of water if the dough feels too dry. Don’t over-mix it, even finishing with your hand if necessary. Pinch the mixture with your fingers to verify that it will hold together when pressed in to the tart pan.

Set a 9-inch (23 cm) removable bottom tart pan on a parchment lined 1/2 sheet pan. Scatter the pieces of dough in the pan. Using your fingers press the dough across the bottom and up the sides of the pan, getting it as even as possible. Freeze the unbaked tart shell until ready to use.

To bake the tart, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Peel (or not) and core the apples, and cut them in eighths. Place the slices in concentric circles or decorative pattern in the unbaked tart shell.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and if including, the ground almonds, zest, and calvados. Add heavy cream and whisk until smooth.

Pour the filling over the apples in the tart dough. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of raw cane sugar. Bake the tart until deep golden brown on top, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Just before serving, if you desire, add a dusting of powdered sugar. Normally tarts like this are served on their own but you can gild the lily with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream.

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