A blog of firsts… my first tart(s), made using my tart tins for the first time, reported in my first blog!
Last week I caught an episode of Laura Calder’s French Food at Home, in which she made a lovely French apple tart. But this was not your run-of-the-mill apple tart… it had a cream cheese filling, a sprinkling of slivered almonds over the apples, and what Laura described as a biscuit-like base that did not require any kneading.
Now I have never made a tart in my life, because the thought of preparing the pastry had always spooked me, but the combination of Laura’s reassurance of the easy tart base, the allure of the exotic cream cheese filling, and the taunts from the little baggie of unopened sliced almonds in my pantry (that I had purchased several weeks ago for baking purposes, but had never got round to using), were too much for me to ignore.
Added to this, the very next day my friend JM had reminded me that Bastille Day was coming up, and I remembered the beautiful (but again, unused) set of 6 small tart tins that my friend CF had given me last Christmas. So I thought to myself that it was high time I made my first tart. Or rather, 6 small tarts.
If you have have Laura’s book French Taste, the recipe is Apple Almond Cream Tart. If not – here’s the recipe.
1 tsp vanilla
225g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
30g slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Make the crust by creaming the butter and sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Mix in the flour until smooth. Laura does all this by hand, as is her preference. Me, I got out my trusty cake mixer (I will find any excuse to use this baby!) instead. Press the mixture into a 20cm tin, or in my case, 6 x 10cm tins (it was rather a lucky break that the recipe was so accommodating of my bakeware deviation). No kneading, pre-chilling, or indeed even pricking with a fork was instructed…! I was completely astounded, but very pleased at the lack of any of the dreaded pastry fiddliness. Bake until lightly golden (15 minutes – or in my case, around 10 minutes). Set aside.
For the filling, beat the ingredients until smooth. That’s all!
For the topping, peel, core and thinly slice the apples, then toss with the sugar and cinnamon. Although I have to say, while Laura specified peeled apples in her recipe, on her program she distinctly did not, and neither did I, as you can see from the photo. In the interest of full disclosure, I added the almonds at this stage too, as I wanted them to also be sugar coated. And (yes, another deviation!) I used sliced, not slivered almonds. I know, I’m such a non-conformist 🙂
Spread the cream cheese filling into the tart shell(s), then arrange the apple slices over the top. Sprinkle over the almonds. Bake until the apples are tender, about 40 min (I turned the oven down to 180°C for this part).
I have had this tart both warm (you couldn’t have resisted having one of these little cuties straight from the oven either, I’ll bet) and cold the next day, and I have to say that cold was definitely better. Hmm, I wonder if I can re-purpose this amazingly simple tart base recipe, for all those other tarts I have been too afraid to make…?