A Day At The Orchard + An Apple & Cardamom Custard Tart
Going apple picking the moment the air feels crisp might sound a little cliche for those living in Los Angeles - or an opportune insta moment. But truth is, your girl here is a Michigander. We take apple season VERY SERIOUSLY. More importantly we take Cider and Donut season VERY seriously. If you haven't been to a proper cider mill during the month of October, you haven't lived.
After an afternoon of picking apples from the tree (or not...you can just grab a bag to go) there is nothing more satisfying than a warm cup of spiced cider and a little brown bag filled with apple cider donuts dusted in cinnamon and sugar. It is bliss. It is everything.
So with a little itch for a turn of season (meaning somewhere where it might dip below 80 degrees), we set out to Glenn Oak, CA to explore and see if Southern California apple country could hold up to my Midwest expectations.
Needless to say, I was excited. CLEARLY. Even for having just been to my all time favorite Cider Mill (The Franklin Cider Mill) a year ago...this was pretty satisfying. It's hard to beat The OG Michigan Mills you guys, but I will take what I can get in a 90 minute drive.
What's most exciting about this adventure is filling your basket with fresh off the tree apples. Which are perfect for dessert making...snaking...oh and did I mention that I bought a cider press? Yup. Cider must run in Michigan veins...more on the press later.
With apples so crisp and tart, I wanted to make...well a tart! A French tart actually, filled with holiday spice infused custard. This would be a celebration! This would be an official kick off to Fall!
This. Would. Be. A VERY. Ambitious. Endeavor.
See, I've never made a french tart before...let alone apple rosettes. But this is what I had my heart set on and it would become an afternoon challenge I would not give up on....oh, and the recipe turned out pretty magnificent if I do say so myself!
Homemade crust with earthy pistachios. A custard filling infused with cardamon. And maybe one of the most beautiful desserts I have ever made - the roses are actually surprisingly easy to pull off too. (You can grab a little tutorial over here that I put together for those who asked)
It really did indeed turn into an ode to autumn. And it was really indeed painful to slice into this several hour accomplishment - but boy, I'm glad I did! There is nothing better than going into something new and walking out with success, especially a delicious success - and by "success" I mean I didn't loose my mind trying to make that custard or throw in the towel after the 7-10 minutes of frantic whisking it takes to make it come together. Who knew baking could be such a strength training sport.
Just a little real talk between you and me.
Also a little nudge from me to you - go find your closest apple orchard and take an afternoon, picking, pressing cider and most importantly know that the line is worth it for your warm cider and donut rewards....then come back home and bake this masterpiece for someone you love (even if it's yourself).
Happy Autumn Friends!
- Apple & Cardamom Custard Tart -
Makes one 9 inch tart
1 cup roasted pistachios⅓ cup granulated sugar1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour1/4 tsp salt½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces1 egg yolk1 tsp vanilla
In a food processor with the blade attachment, combine sugar and pistachios and pulse until fine and fully combined. Add flour and salt, pulse until mixed through. Sprinkle butter over mixture and pulse 6 times. Drizzle beaten egg yolk and vanilla over mixture and pulse for an additional 6 rounds until mixture begins to clump.
Remove from food processor, kneed into a ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
To assemble crust, press chilled dough into tart tin (with removable bottom) into even layers. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes (can also be prepared and left frozen a few days ahead).
To cook - preheat oven 325 and place frozen dough into the oven and bake until golden brown. Approx. 30 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack before assembling tart filling.
1 ½ cups milk½ cup heavy cream¼ tsp ground cardamon¼ tsp salt5 whole cardamon pods2 cinnamon sticks & 1 whole vanilla bean, scraped
½ cup granulated sugar2 egg yolks3 tbsp arrowroot2 tbsp unsalted butter
In a medium sauce pan add milk, cream, spices and vanilla. Bring to a simmer, cover and remove from heat allowing mixture to steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain out any whole spices and vanilla pods before next step.
In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, egg yolks and arrowroot until full combine. Reheat your spiced milk mixture until barely simmering. Slowly pour this into your bowl with egg and sugar mixture, whisking slowly until fully combined.
Once combined, return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat. Whisk vigorously and continuously until mixture has a pudding like texture and air bubbles are popping on surface (this will feel like it's not going to happen and your arm might start falling asleep, but I assure you it comes together).
Pour custard into a clean bowl, covering with plastic wrap that is touching the custard surface. Allow to fully chill in the refrigerator before filling tart crust.
APPLE TOPPING INGREDIENTS
4 medium apples (use a mix and match of varieties for color variation)juice of 1/2 lemon Medium bowl of cold water
1 -2 TBS Apricot preserves + 1 tsp water for glaze
Core your ables and cut into quarters, using a mandoline finely slice apples and place into your lemon water bath to reduce browning. Drain apples from water and carefully create several layers over your custard filling.
Bake assembled tart at 350 F for 15 minutes until golden. Brush apples with your apricot preserve glaze and let cool on a wire rack before serving immediately, or chilled in the fridge for up to a few days. If you find that your apples are drying out during the baking period, either sprinkle with a little bit of granulated sugar or a quick glaze brushing to rehydrate.