Apple Custard Tart

     After the opulent French grocery stores of Tahiti, it was a bit of a shock when I first wandered the stores in Tonga.  Although there were a dozen little markets in the town of Niafu, each seemed to carry the same assortment of dry crackers, vegetable oil, noodles, and canned corned beef.  Could we eat this way for a month?  I pulled a can labeled "corned meat loaf" off the shelf and read the ingredients:  Mutton heart, beef kidney, water, beef...   In the US we label this "dog food".

     But there was flour.  And butter.  In the farmers market was nice looking fresh fruits and vegetables.  And eggs.  They grow vanilla beans here and sell them for next to nothing!  It was apple picking time in New Zealand and for a few days after the supply boat arrived, there would be nice fresh apples for sale.  It suddenly occured to me that we could eat pretty well here, but we'd have to make everything ourselves, from scratch, using these basic ingredients.  After being home in the US for six months, then spoiled in Polynesia, I guess I had forgotten that this is entirely possible.

     I gathered up what I needed and went home to Uliad to celebrate my discovery with this: 

 

Crust:

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp butter

2 Cups flour

1/2 tsp salt (omit if butter is salted)

5-6 Tbsp water

      cut butter into flour & salt until granular consistency.  Add water and mix into a dough, kneading until it holds together.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 or more hours.  Roll out into 12 inch circle and pat into a large tart pan.

 

Filling:

4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin

1 1/2 Cup cream

1 vanilla bean

2 egg yolks

3 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

      Arrange apple slices in a circular pattern on top of the crust.   Put cream and egg yolks into a saucepan and beat to mix.  Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the little seeds with the tip of your knife.  Put the seeds and the whole bean into the cream.  Add sugar and cinnamon and heat slowly, while stirring constantly.  When the custard begins to thicken, pour over the apples and bake at 375 F for about an hour, or until the edges of the crust are browned.  Cool before cutting and serving.