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October 21, 2012

Julia Child’s Apple Cream Tart

Over her long and illustrious lifetime, Julia Child forged a couple of strong ties to Maine. She and her husband, Paul, spent many summer vacations at his family home on Mount Desert Island, and then, in her later years, she often visited good friends on Deer Isle. In fact, one of the several 85th birthday parties that were given for her all across the country happened on Deer Isle. Like countless other late-twentieth century cooks, I was inspired by Julia’s wonderful television show and her cookbooks. I like to think that she would approve this slight adaptation of her delectable Apple Cream Tart from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Knopf, 1966). I also think she’d approve the use of local cooking apples, such as Macouns or Jonathans.

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image courtesy of laterbloomer.com

Julia’s Apple Cream Tart
Brooke Dojny,  Dishing Up Maine

Sweet Short Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into 5 pieces
3 Tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cut into 3 chunks
4 Tablespoons ice water

Apple Cream Filling
3 cups peeled and sliced medium-sweet apples, such as Macouns or Jonathans (about 1 pound)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light cream
1 Tablespoon rum or cognac
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

Crust:
To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the shortening is about the size of small peas. Drizzle the water through the feed tube and pulse until the pastry begins to clump together. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (To make by hand, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, work in the cold butter and shortening with your fingertips, add the water, and stir with a large fork to make a soft dough.)

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface, working from the center in all directions until you have an 11-inch round. Fold the dough in half and ease it into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with the fold in the center. Unfold the dough, press it against the sides of the pan, and trim the edges. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Press a sheet of foil into the bottom of the tart shell. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 5-8 minutes, until pale golden. If the pastry starts to puff up, press the bottom gently with a large spatula or oven-mitted hand to flatten. Fill immediately or cool on a rack. If proceeding immediately, leave the oven temperature at 375°.

Filling:
In a large bowl, toss the apples with 1/3 cup of the sugar and the cinnamon and spread into the bottom of the tart shell. Bake until the apples begin to color and are almost tender, 20-25 minutes.

Reduce oven to 350°.

Whisk together the egg and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium-sized bowl until well-blended. Whisk in the flour, then the cream, rum, and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the apple mixture.

Bake until the top is pale golden and a knife inserted part way to the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar before serving.

Serves 6-8.

Brooke Dojny is the author of several cookbooks including Dishing Up Maine.

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