For a simple treat, this apple tart is perfect with its tender crisp apple slices layered over a bed of a creamy and cheesy vanilla custard. The crust is light, buttery and flaky and over all, the combination of all these beautiful elements adds a nice little indulgence to your day.
I never really had a thing for apple pies or even any desserts made with apples. I would go for berries in a cake or in pastries, but apples? I guess it did not sound so appealing to me. I will just eat it plain.
Until one day, one unforgettable bite of apple pie kinda’ swerved my stand for apples in pastries. When I was invited for a menu preview for Joey restaurants ( perks of being blogger), me and other Winnipeg bloggers were served apple pie for dessert. Paired with vanilla ice cream, that first bite of the apple pie was something I can’t forget and I took a mental note that day that someday, I am gonna bake an apple pie. Or apple tart. Or apple turnovers. Or apple cake.
In other words, I began to look at apples in a different light that day.
So fast forward to now, here you are. And here I am. We have apple tart today. There is just this wonderful combination of the fruitiness of apple and the light, but creamy vanilla custard underneath that makes me want more and more of this apple tart.
To start off, make the light and flaky crust.
Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the cubed butter and shortening.
Use your fingers to rub the pieces of fat into the flour. Pinch, press and smear. Repeat until you form a coarse and crumbly mixture. Be quick though. You don’t want the butter to get greasy on you. You can also use a pastry blender, if you wish. Either way, be quick.
Now add the water. Just sprinkle it evenly over the mixture and stir everything until the dough holds together when pressed. If not, add one to two tablespoons of water.
Now gather and form the dough into ball, then flatten it into a 6 inch disk. Wrap it in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
On a floured surface and with a floured rolling pin, Roll the dough into an approximately 13 inch circle. If you find that the dough is very sticky, lay a piece of plastic wrap and roll over the plastic with the dough underneath.
Lift the dough gently by wrapping it into the rolling pin. Center it over an 11 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Ease the dough into the sides, pressing against the pan as you go. Cut the excess dough in the edges but leave about 1/4 inch over hang. Fold this excess dough inwards into the edges to strengthen the crust.
Also, don’t let this dough break your heart. If it tears, simply pat the broken parts together with some scraps of dough. Or if it simply cannot be rolled as a whole, it helps to just flatten the dough in several portion into the pan and then press them up against the edges. It is normal and it is not a failure. This dough is tricky as it is beautiful in the end. And even if you get finger prints on it, it would not matter.
Chill the crust for about an hour in the fridge. Preheat oven to 375 F. Prick several holes on the surface of the crust. Lay a parchment paper slightly bigger than the size of the pan over the crust and add a couple of handful uncooked rice or dried beans over it.
Make sure that the entire surface is covered with rice and that it extends up to height of the crust. Bake at 375 F for 17-20 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper and bake for 5-7 minutes longer or until crust is lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
At this point, you can now prepare the ingredients for the filling and toppings. Preheat oven to 375 F. Peel, core and slice the apples. Beat together the cream cheese, cream, eggs, vanilla and sugar until smooth.
In another large bowl, toss the apples, almonds, sugar and cinnamon ( if using).
Once the oven reaches 375 F. Pour the filling into the crust, spread evenly and lay the apple slices on top. Scatter the almonds over the apples. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the apples are tender and lightly golden.
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