Some years ago, I swore that I would never eat another apple related dessert as long as I lived. The reason being my eldest sister (By the way, 09-09-09 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIS!) had an apple pie business. She used to sell apple crumble pies and she used our kitchen as her headquarters. So while at first we enjoyed the fact that we would have unlimited access to apple pies, after awhile, it just all became too much. The turning point was when I went to school and my classmate asked me why I smelled like oatmeal – a core ingredient in the crumble… (until then I did not realize oatmeal had a distinct smell).
Recently, I decided the humble apple deserved a second chance. I was intrigued by a recipe in Giorgio Locatelli’s Made In Italy Food and Stories Cookbook. He calls it Torta di Mele and it consists of a puff pastry base, a generous layer of pastry cream and finally slices of Granny Smith apples. I have altered it to suit my taste.
This recipe makes four 10 cm tarts or one 28cm tart.
- 1 package (375 grams) puff pastry (I used the Careme Brand)
- 4 Granny Smith apples
- 4 Tablespoons caster sugar
For the Pastry Cream
- 70 grams caster sugar
- 75 grams cornflour
- 6 egg yolks
- 300 ml milk
- 200 ml cream
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla pod
- To make the pastry cream, mix the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks together in a bowl until pale. Put the milk and cream in a pan with the cinnamon stick and the beans scraped from the vanilla bean. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and then take off the heat and leave to stand for 20 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
- Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the sugar and egg yolk mixture. This is now your pastry cream mixture. Pour this back into the pan used to heat the milk and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens.
- Take the mixture off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick.
- Cool the mixture in the refrigerator.
For the Tart
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Roll out the pastry into four circles of 10 cm diameter or one 30 cm diameter around 3 mm thick. Prick all over with a fork. Spread with pastry cream.
- Halve the apples and remove their cores. Slice them 2 mm thick and arrange them in concentric circles, embedding them in the pastry cream.
- Put in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes (another 5 minutes for the larger tart) until the pastry is golden and crisp. Halfway through the baking time, sprinkle with caster sugar, which will melt and caramelize. If the apples look to be cooking too quickly, add some more sugar. This will act as a barrier to the heat.