Apple and Custard Tart
I dreamt up this combination of a tart with a layer of apple puree topped with creamy custard last month, I imagined it in my mind tasting quite wonderful and it does. This has become the dessert I want to eat before I die, only I would like the whole tart. It’s apple and custard with a biscuit, how could you not like that?
If the thought of making your own pastry is putting you off making this tart then please go to the chiller cabinet of the supermarket and buy some readymade pastry because nothing, I mean nothing, should stop you from making this.
I wanted to make this with the more delicate English custard crème Anglaise and not the easier but heavier flourier crème pâtissière because I wanted to transfer the British tradition of apples and custard into a tart form. I was aiming for the custard to be as close to the texture of runny custard as possible and for this reason it relies on the fatness of the cream and a little cornflour (cornstarch).
To make life easier the apple puree can be made day before but if keeping it in the fridge make sure you bring it out hours before using, it’s important to have it at room temperature when it goes into the oven to help set the custard underneath.
The tart once made will keep very well until the next day but it should be served at room temperature to get its full taste and the delicate consistency of the custard. This means if keeping it overnight in the fridge take it out at least 2 hours before serving.
How to make apple and custard tart
Cook the apples down, adding 2 tablespoons of water to get them started and stopping them from burning on the bottom. Cover the pan with a lid and put it on a low to medium heat. Stir the apples a couple of times to prevent the bottom from catching.
Once the apples have broken down, take the lid off and on low heat keep cooking them for another 10-15 minutes to drive away excess water. This is important otherwise you’ll have too much water in the pastry and the apple puree won’t be thick enough to cut through neatly into slices.
If your puree looks like this one below then it’s too watery, it should be stiffer, not floppy, it should be able to hold up its weight not run to the sides.
Put it back in the pan and cook further on low heat, lid off, stirring a few times, until it appears thicker and much drier.
Keep cooking on low heat and stir now and again…
…to prevent it from burning.
after about 10-15mins the excess water should be visibly evaporated and the mixture stiffer.
Pre-bake the tart shell really well, the pastry is going to have a watery apples on it and in order to maintain crisp you want it baked through properly. Once you remove the baking beans put the shell back in the oven on a lower oven to dry out well without burning it.
Add all the custard ingredients together in a wide pan because it will be quicker and easier to control the custard. The cornflour (cornstarch) is the ingredient that will stop the custard from curdling into scramble eggs when it reaches a high temperature on the stove.
Keep stirring the custard with a whisk while on low-medium heat, if the bottom of the custard happens to curdle then remove the pan from the stove and whisk the custard continuously and it will become smooth again.
When the custard has come almost to boiling point take off the heat keep stirring for few seconds…
…and pour it into a large jug.
Assemble the tart, add the cooled but room temperature apple puree to the bottom of the tart.
Pour in the custard, it should still be warm.
Easier to move around the tart tin if you place it on a baking sheet.
Bake for 45mins – 1hr. After 30 minutes turn the tart around in the oven.
In order to tell when the tart is done the best thing to do is to jiggle it when it’s not done, that way when it’s just set you’ll see the difference. When turning the tart around in the oven after 30 mins give the tart a jiggle and see that cause the custard to have a ripple effect. When the custard is set that ripple won’t happen, at this point take the tart out of the oven.
Leave it to cool down completely at room temperature, you should wait at least 3-4 hours in order to be able to cut a clean piece.
Apple and Custard Tart
I used cooking apples here because they cook down really well and also because they add tartness which is a good contrast to the sweet custard. The sugar for the cooking apples are a guide as it will depend on the apple and your tastebuds, but I like to leave a certain tartness to the puree. You can make the apple puree with eating apples but in that case don’t add any sugar to them.
1 x 25cm (10inch) tart tin
- 1 pre-baked pastry case (to make your own pastry see my post here)
- 900g – 1kg cooking apples (see note above)
- 50-60g sugar
Before making custard pre-heat oven to 100˚C fan / 120˚C F
- 250g double cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 50g sugar
- 1 teaspoon / 3-4g cornflour (cornstarch) make sure it’s a proper measured spoon
Add all ingredients together in a wide pan, with a large whisk mix while they’re cold. Put the pan on low-medium heat and bring the custard near boiling point whisking all the time. If the mixture starts to curdle on the bottom take the pan off the heat and keep stirring vigorously until it’s smooth again. Pour custard into a jug.
Assemble the tart by adding the apple puree first, it should come about halfway, then pour the custard on top. Place the tart on to a baking sheet to make it easier to transfer to oven and later to remove. Bake for 30 minutes and do the jiggle test to look out for the rippling on the custard, turn the tart around in the oven and bake until custard is just set, could take another 15-30 minutes depending on ovens.