1 day into Autumn/Fall season and I am feeling the joy of baking again. Throughout the whole summer, my laziness caught up with me and the enthusiasm of baking simply faded with the hot sun and pool days. I didn't like the idea of the butter melting beyond room temperature faster than I was ready to start creaming it and the oven temperature rising like the sun outside kept me at bay till now.
With cooler temperature and hungrier appetite, what is better than to have a warm buttery tart filled with the sweet smell of Autumn apples. We picked too many apples 2 weeks ago and there are possibly 20 more MacIntosh sitting in the bag and 6 more in the fridge. MacIntosh is Curry's favorite and I have no idea why he likes it as it gets soft easily and a bit difficult to bite into when they are tart too! I like my apple super crunchy and light, like Washington Red and Gala and I believe my choice is the majority one in this household. Since Curry is out of town for another 4 more days, I better start cooking up his apples before they rot of neglect from us!
As I was not keen to make the flaky pie pastry which takes more effort and needless to say, butter fat, I opted for the more easier to make butter tart dough. Except for the messy crumbling of the butter pieces into the flour with my fingers, this dough is a cinch to make. As long as it is left rested for a certain period in the refrigerator, it is easily rolled and shaped into the tart moulds. I made the tart case more thicker as I like to savor the buttery flavor which is tender and melt in your mouth texture. The addition of salt to the dough gives it a salty bite that complements with its sweet filling of almond cream butter and the sweet and tartness from the apples.
I only managed to use 2 apples for this 4 of a 3 inch tart each. Mini sizes are my preferred choice when making pies, cakes and tarts as I love individual servings without the cutting and dividing. And of course, they look prettier served as a whole. The filling consists of grounded almond which is available in stores and usually used for making macarons. I blended it with room temperature butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Each tart is filled with 2 big spoonfuls of the almond cream and spreaded evenly with an angled spatula. The apples are then cored and cut into slices of half and then quartered. If I had better patience, I would have created a better circular arrangement of the apple slices but instead I formed the outer rims and started to stack towards the middle, hence the uneven look.
As they bake in the oven, the almond cream started to bubble and slowly set in with the apple slices. Before the baking was done, I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top of each tart to create the brownish topping. Without it, the apples will look pale after baking. When I made the cinnamon sugar, I limit on the amount of cinnamon as I am in the view that spices should give only a subtle aroma rather than overpowering the baked tart.
I am pleased with the almond cream filling as it sets softly in a custardy texture and the added vanilla gave it a sweet smell. The apples tasted better after baking and it is surprisingly sweeter in baked form rather than in its original form. Missy E and I had to share one tart at a time as I feel guilty of overeating on this buttery tart. But every fork we digged in made us wanting for more! The tender tart crust just goes so well with the sweet almond cream custard and soft apples. With a cup of black coffee or tea, this tart is a good start towards a good Baking season!