Ingredients (serves 8)
*The directions here are for a luxurious buttery shortbread pastry base. For a quicker, lighter tart, this recipe can also be made using ready-to-roll puff pastry.
For “crema pastelera” filling:
•3 egg yolks
•½ litre milk
•3 tablespoons cold milk
•5 tablespoons caster/icing sugar
•2 tablespoons cornflour
•1 level tablespoon plain flour
•rind of 1 lemon
•½ teaspoon vanilla essence
•1 ½ golden delicious apples, thinly sliced
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•2 tablespoons desiccated coconut (optional)
•1 ½ tablespoons apricot jam
•1 ½ tablespoons water
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
Crema Pastelera (Confectioner’s Cream):
This confectioner’s cream filling can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until needed.
Place half litre milk and 3 tablespoons sugar in saucepan with rind of 1 lemon and heat.
In a large cup/bowl, mix egg yolks, rest of sugar, cornflour, flour and cold milk until smooth and lump free.
When milk almost reaches boiling, remove from heat and pour a tablespoon or so into cold mix, stirring constantly to avoid forming lumps. Repeat.
Place saucepan back on heat and slowly pour egg mix into milk in saucepan, stirring constantly. Keep on low heat, stirring non-stop for 5 minutes. Mixture will thicken considerably.
Remove from heat and pour your confectioner’s cream into bowl. Remove lemon rind and let cool. If, despite all your careful stirring, lumps appeared, pass cream through a sieve. Allow to cool completely before use.
Sift flour and add chilled butter in small chunks. Blend with fingers or mixer to reach crumb consistency. Add sugar and mix well. Add egg and mix just enough to bring pastry together, without kneading.
Grease 24 cm ovenproof tart pan/plate and sprinkle lightly with flour. Spread pastry into pan/plate pushing down with fingers until even (this pastry will be too crumbly to roll out), and pinch pastry edges together.
Pierce some holes in base of pastry case with fork and blind bake in moderate oven (approximately 180oC) for 10 minutes (covering pastry with baking paper and weighing down with baking beans will stop pastry from puffing up too much at this stage).
Remove blind-baked pastry case from oven and fill with confectioner’s cream, evening out to edges with spatula. Carefully place thinly sliced apples on top of “crema pastelera” forming concentric circles till you reach centre.
Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and place in moderate oven (approximately 180oC) for 25 minutes.
Place sugar, jam, water and lemon juice in small saucepan and boil, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes.
Brush glaze over top of baked tart while glaze is still hot and runny. Decorate edges of tart with sprinkling of desiccated coconut (optional).
Allow to cool before serving.
Notes: This recipe can be adapted into infinite variations: use puff pastry instead of shortbread; make small tartlets in individual tart pans instead of one large tart (reduce baking time in this case); add raisins and nuts to apple topping; use pear instead of apple; bake confectioner’s cream in pastry case for 20 minutes without fruit and add preserved berries or mixed fruits after baking and glaze.... The possibilities are endless... Have fun!