This is a really simple, old-fashioned little tart that depends on nothing more than what most people have in their cupboards every day. I’m always trying to expand my repertoire of quick desserts that can be made with ingredients I have on hand. This one is just a creamy little sugar custard that pops up in old cookbooks over and over, sometimes called a butter tart, and sometimes with brown sugar. Sometimes the addition of raisins. It’s the type of dessert I love–easy, fast, and rustic, and I always have what it takes.
Our great-grandmas really knew how to put ingredients together.
pastry for a single-crust pie
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons butter, melted
Roll out the pastry. Line a greased 8-inch tart pan with the pastry.
Whisk all the ingredients together. Yes, that’s a lotta butter. It’s okay. We’re making a treat.
Pour into the pastry shell.
Stick it on the lower rack of your oven at 350-degrees for about 30 minutes. (It’s very important to place it on the lower oven rack or the pastry will not get done. You could pre-bake the pastry if you prefer. I find it works fine as long as I bake it on the lower rack.) The custard will be just about set. Remove from oven to add the topping.
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Use a pastry blender, or just a fork, to cut the butter into the sugar and spices.
Sprinkle the topping over the custard.
Return the tart to the oven for about 10 more minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
This tart is not all that much different from a classic custard pie other than the lack of milk and the addition of the cornmeal texture and the flavor of the apple cider vinegar (which makes it a very American sort of custard). It’s a tart that knows how to make the best out of very basic ingredients and it’s a new (old) favorite with me. If you use a spring-form pan, you could even remove it from the pan for a prettier presentation, but I just used a regular tart pan. You could also make this in mini-tarts. Maybe for Valentine’s Day!
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