When my friend and fellow foodie, Susan, exclaimed, The Gravensteins are in season!, I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about. Well, apparently this Gravenstein is the comet of apples. It has a very short season and, once plucked (or fallen, as they tend to do), their life is short.
Susan, my inside-track on things Oregon, explained that these fragrant apples soften quickly so they are great in applesauce, apple butter and pie fillings. Apparently, they freeze well, too, so you can cut, core and peel your extras to freeze for off-season treats.
Since I already had some crème pâtissière in the fridge, I decided to make an apple pear tart with vanilla custard filling.
Tart dough, also known as pâte à foncer.
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 125 butter, unsalted, cubed and softened
- 1 medium egg
- 6 g caster sugar
- 3 g fine salt
- 40 ml cold water
Heap the flour on the counter and make a well. Put butter, salt, sugar and egg in the well and begin to blend with your fingertips, slowly drawing in more flour from the edges. Work until grainy. Add the water and work until dough forms.
Wrap in cling film and chill until ready to use.
- 6 egg yolks
- 125 g caster sugar
- 40 g all purpose flour, sifted
- 500 ml milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Whisk egg yolks and 1/3 of the sugar together to a light ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour.
Heat the milk in a pan with the remaining sugar and vanilla bean. As soon as it boils, pour it into the egg mix continuously stirring. Return the mix to the pan and on medium heat stirring continuously. Let bubble for 2 minutes and allow to cool. Remove the vanilla bean.
Roll your tart dough out into a circle about 1/8″ thick to fit a lightly buttered 9″ round tart ring. Place dough in the ring, carefully shaping the outer edges. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Peel, core and slice 3 apples and at least 2 pears. Chop the pears and place in a pan with 30 g butter. Cook down until pears are soft. Blend into a compote.
With a fork, poke some holes in the bottom of the tart shell. Pour the crème pâtissière into the tart shell and smooth.
Top with the cooled pear compote.
Begin layering apple slices in a ring around the outer edge. Create a second ring from the center going in the opposite direction. *Why are my apples shiny? I poured the sugar syrup over the apples before I baked it. Don’t do that. That’s what happens when I get distracted.
Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Let the tart cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before removing the ring.
While it’s cooling, make the sugar syrup using 80 g caster sugar and 40 ml of water. Boil for 4 or 5 minutes to reduce. Brush the syrup over the cooked apples. I dusted mine with some demerara sugar and caramelized the top to compensate for my “syrup error”.