Recipes

Best Pastry Chefs | Cheese-Filled Crumb Tart

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This story is part of our Best Pastry Chefs of 2013 feature.

For years, Na Young Ma waffled between baking gigs and the kind of jobs that, in her words, "my parents would approve of." Finally, she committed to the kitchen, signing up for a pastry program to fill the holes in her baking education.

After a few stints in restaurant kitchens, she switched gears, focusing on perfectly flaky croissants and buttery tarts. Since she opened her bakery, Proof, even health-conscious Angelenos can't resist carbs for breakfast.

Ma doesn't remember many desserts around the house while she was growing up. "When we craved something sweet, we got fruit," she recalls. There was one exception: Entenmann's coffee cake. "It was my mother's weakness. She loved the stuff." Here, Ma reimagines the crumble-strewn dessert.

Cheese-Filled Crumb Tart

Recipe adapted from Na Young Ma, Proof Bakery, Los Angeles

Yield: One 10-inch tart, plus extra pastry cream

Cook Time: 1 hour (plus overnight chill time)

Ingredients

Pastry Dough
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1½ teaspoons baking powder

Cream Cheese Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk, divided

½ cup granulated sugar

Pinch kosher salt

3 tablespoons cornstarch

6 large egg yolks

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces

½ cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

Streusel
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup almond meal

¾ cup pastry flour or all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions

1. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, sugar, lemon zest and salt. Mix until smooth and well combined, then add the eggs and the egg yolk, one at a time, mixing until just combined. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a sheet of parchment paper and sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the dough, mixing until just combined. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and divide into 2 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into rounds, wrap each round in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes until chilled.

2. Make the pastry cream: In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine 1¾ cups of the milk, the sugar and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Add the egg yolks and whisk until well combined. Slowly pour in some of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the milk-egg mixture to the saucepan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens and the whisk leaves a trail across the bottom of the pan, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla seeds and the butter. Whisk until the butter is melted, then strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve and into a shallow bowl. Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Place the pastry cream in the refrigerator and chill until completely set, at least 6 hours or overnight.

3. Make the streusel: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, sugar, almond meal, flour, salt and lemon zest. Mix together on low speed until large crumbs form. Transfer the streusel to a baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add 1 cup of the chilled pastry cream (reserving the rest for another use) and mix to combine. Place a large rectangle of parchment paper on a work surface and lightly dust with flour. Unwrap a dough round, place the dough round on the floured parchment, and top with another parchment rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough round into a 12-inch round, about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the round to the refrigerator and chill while you roll out the second round. Line the bottom of a 10-inch tart pan with one of the dough rounds, and press the dough into the fluted sides of the ring, allowing the excess dough to drape over the edge. Fill the tart with the cream cheese pastry cream, using an offset spatula to spread the cream evenly across the bottom of the tart. Lay the second round of dough over the top of the tart, pressing the dough lightly into the sides of the mold, and use a sharp knife to trim the edges. Cut 3 slits into the top of the tart. Use a pastry brush to brush the top of the tart with the beaten egg and sprinkle the top of the tart with the streusel topping. Place the tart on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the tart is golden-brown, 45 to 50 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool completely. Remove the tart from the pan by lifting the tart from the bottom and letting the ring fall away. Cut the tart into slices and serve.

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