Savoring Apple Season

October 26, 2012

Tarte Tatin

Quite a few years ago, when my husband and I were on our honeymoon in France, I first heard of tarte tatin. And that’s all – I heard about it. Every time I tried to order it, I was told it had “expired”. The first time I was told this, I was very confused, but by the end of the trip I realized “expired” meant 86’d, or they’d run out.

Disappointment faded away, and I had long forgotten about the tarte tatin, until I had a bunch of gravenstein apples in my kitchen, just begging to be turned into a dessert. In trying to decide what to make, I stumbled upon the idea of a tarte tatin, as they seem to be having a bit of a renaissance here at the moment. The dessert couldn’t be simpler… except for flipping the darn thing.

Tarte Tatin

The first time I made this, flipping was no issue. It set up just fine, flipped just fine, voila! Tarte tatin! A friend mentioned she had made one, but all the sugary juices had ran out when she flipped hers. Lo and behold, the second time around, the same thing happened to me. After thinking this over, I figured out the solution. The first part of making this dessert is basically making a caramel – butter and sugar are melted and browned. If you don’t cook this mixture long enough, the carmelized sugar will stay runny, and you’ll have the same issue we both had. The other thing is to make sure the dessert has cooled sufficiently before flipping.

While this dessert can be served with whipped cream or ice cream, I prefer it stands alone, so you can enjoy the full flavor of the apples, almost unadulterated.

Tarte Tatin

6 5/8 ounces all-purpose flour
1 ounce confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 pounds apples (recommended – Granny Smith, Gravenstein, or other good baking apples), peeled, cored, and quartered

For the dough: Process the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor. Remove the butter from the refrigerator, and cut into 1/4 inch cubes. Add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together into a coarse crumb. Add the beaten egg and process until, again, the mixture just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 6 inch disc. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

For the apples: Melt butter in a 12 inch oven-safe non-stick skillet over medium to medium high heat. Stir in the sugar and cook, constantly stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes a light golden color. Lower to medium heat and continue cooking and stirring until the color deepens to a brown, about another minute or so. Remove from heat.

Arrange the apples in the mixture, placing the apple quarters cut side down, so they stand up on their edge. Start by making a ring around the outside, and work your way in, snuggling the apples closer together if needed to fit them all. You want to keep a single layer.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and roll the dough out to about 14 inches in diameter. Lay the dough over the apples, tucking the edges into the apple mixture. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, turning halfway through, until the crust is golden brown.

Let the tarte sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour before flipping. To flip, run a knife carefully around the edge of the tarte (so as not to scrape your non-stick coating) to loosen. Place a platter on top of the skillet. The skillet should be warm but not so hot you can’t touch it for the quick time you need to flip this in order to not be runny. However, if your hands are sensitive to heat, use a kitchen towel or oven mitts when flipping. Quickly flip onto the platter, and serve.

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