This tart was inspired by one of my favorite breakfasts: buttermilk poured over warm cornbread and drizzled with maple syrup. For a more robust maple flavor, I reduced the syrup a bit, a technique I learned from making the maple-pecan granola recipe in Kim Boyce’s cookbook, Good to the Grain. (The granola is awesome by the way). I folded creme fraiche into the custard for some tang and added cornmeal to an all-butter dough for a more textured crust. —Midge
Dough for 9-inch tart pan or 14"x 4.5" rectangular pan*
cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Make Crust: Thoroughly combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar together by hand in a bowl or in the bowl of a food processor.
Add butter, and pulse food processor (or cut into flour quickly by hand) just until fat and flours turn into a pebbly mixture.
If using a processor, remove blade and sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of ice water on pebbly mixture. Using the processor or your hands, gently combine until the dough starts to hold together. Add more water as needed. Form dough into a disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out dough on floured surface to fit your pan. Gently fit into tart pan, crimping the edges. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 400.
Poke dough in tart pan with fork to ventilate. Line with parchment or foil and add pie weights (or beans and/or rice). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and pie weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes until pie shell starts to look dry-ish on the bottom. Cool. Lower oven temp to 375 degrees
Make Maple Cream Filling: Combine the cream and crème fraiche in a small saucepan. Split vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream, add the bean to the cream as well. Turn the heat to low to gently warm the cream and let the vanilla infuse it.
Pour maple syrup in heavy-bottomed saucepan and turn heat to medium-high for roughly 5 minutes, until it’s reduced by about one-fourth. It’ll get a bit foamy, but you don't want it boiling too vigorously; watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Once its reduced, take it off the heat and let it cool a bit.
Add the reduced syrup to the cream mixture and whisk together until combined over low heat. Remove vanilla bean.
Whisk egg yolks with salt in a medium bowl. Temper the yolks by whisking in a little of the cream/syrup mixture. Gradually add the rest, until it's all incorporated. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher or large measuring cup.
Pour strained custard into tart shell within about 1/4-inch from the top (still have some left over? see note below*) Carefully slide on rack in center of oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the filling is firm to the touch.
Cool on wire rack. To remove tart from pan, slide the outside ring off the pan. Cool and serve at room temperature. Also great cold from the fridge, especially with a cup of coffee for breakfast.
*Note: If you use a 14"x 4.5" tart pan like I did, you'll likely have leftover dough and custard. Sprinkle the dough scraps with cinnamon sugar and spread on a small sheet pan to bake along with the tart for about 10-15 minutes. Pour leftover filling in ramekins and place in a small baking pan; fill halfway with cool water and bake with tart.
I’m a journalist who’s covered everything from illegal logging in Central America to merit pay for teachers, but these days I write mostly about travel. I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in some far-flung locales, where poking around markets and grocery stores is my favorite thing to do. Cooking, especially baking, is my way of winding down after a long day; there’s nothing like kneading bread dough to bring you back to earth.