Tuesday, September 5, 2006

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~Lao-tzu

In the previous post, I wrote about offering assistance to others in need. "To simply help." Somewhat overwhelmed by so much need, I wasn't quite sure where or even how to begin offering my particular personal assistance. And so, I've continued doing volunteer service work for my local church and its academy library. My physical contributions of service have not yet progressed to broader aid, as I've not yet swung a hammer forHabitat for Humanity or ladled soup at a Salvation Army shelter. Still, in the spirit of simply helping, I stopped and bought some apples at a local farmer's market this weekend. Although it wasn't an extraordinarily significant step in culinary activism, it was my first step. First small steps on a personal culinary journey toward a greater social responsibility. And while national and global agencies remain farther along the journey, at least my single farmer's market purchase helped, however minimally, to support a local farmer and strengthen the economy of local agriculture.

So I bought some apples. And using a simple recipe from Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets (Deborah Madison), I chose to bake a Caramelized Apple Tart with Cinnamon Custard. Rustic comfort food for these first days of early Fall, as I take first steps on a more purposeful journey.
Caramelized Apple Tart with Cinnamon Custard
(recipe courtesy Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America's Farmers' Markets, from Deborah Madison)


For the Apples:
3 apples (mine were smaller, so I used 4)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

For the Batter:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra
1/2 cup sugar
3 medium eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the cream:
1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg yolk
Confectioners' sugar (for dusting)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch tart pan. Peel and core the apples, then slice them into 1/2-inch wedges. Melt the butter in a wide nonstick skillet, add the apples, and sprinkle them with the sugar. Cook over high heat, occasionally flipping the apples, until they start to caramelize, then reduce the heat to medium. Keep a close eye on the apples, turning them frequently so they don't burn. This will take about 15 minutes in all. Turn off the heat.

To make the batter, cream the butter and sugar in a mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and salt, then stir in the flour. Smooth the batter into the tart pan with an offset spatula, pushing it up the sides to make a rim. Lay the apples over the batter.

Mix the ingredients for the cream together, then pour it over the apples. Set the tart on a sheet pan and bake until the crust is golden and starting to pull away from the sides, about 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Remove the tart from the rim, place it on a serving plate, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. (When making this tart, my fresh-from-the-farm-small-apples seemed too fragile for pan caramelization, so instead, I simply coated them first with the custard mixture and second with a layer of sugar before baking.)

Until we meet for coffee,

1 comment:

  1. Sounds delicious, is it meant to be so dark though? I'm not sure if it's slightly over-done or not.