Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Apple Tarte Tatin

After visiting a friend in Normandy and eating her mom's incredibly delicous apple tart, I knew I had to work on creating something like it myself. This visit was nearly 4 years ago and I haven't tried a French apple tart yet. Since Normandy is famous for it's crepes and tarts and I've been there to try the real things, I thought I would be up to a big challenge to match the perfect taste, which I have now realized I am...

I was going through some of my Aunt's old cookbooks - the ones at the grocery store check out that are 5 1/5x 8 1/2 - and many of the recipes didn't look too appetizing to me. Then I found a Land O Lakes Recipe Collection called From The Market: Fast and Fresh (date unknown but I'm guessing from the '80s), and inside I found a recipe called Caramelized Apple Tarte Tatin. We were having leftovers for dinner but didn't have a dessert, so I thought I'd give a French tarte a try. It was interesting... read on...

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour (1/2 cup minus one tablespoon can be used instead of cake flour - what I did)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons cold water

Apple Layer:
6 small tart red cooking apples
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
In a medium bowl combine flours and 1 tablespoon sugar. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until crumbly (I used my hands). With fork, mix in water just until moistened. Form pastry into ball. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).

Core, peel & slice apples into 1/8-inch slices. Keep slices in a bowl of cold water until ready to put in pie plate.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll chilled dough into 12-inch circle; set aside.

Grease sides of a 10-inch quiche pan or pie plate (I used pie plate but wished I had a tart pan to use), then arrange sliced apples in pinwheel form; dot with 6 tablespoons butter. In 2-quart saucepan, cook 1/3 cup sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and forms a caramel syrup (approx. 7 minutes - watch very closely; burns easily). Drizzle over top of apples. Place rolled pastry over apples, tucking edge of pastry into pan to seal. Prick all over top of dough with fork. Bake 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Let cool 15 minutes in pan, then invert onto serving platter; serve warm with whipped cream.

The flour, sugar and butter as I was adding the water.
The pastry right before I wrapped it up and put it in the fridge.
You can see the little recipe book in the background and how the tart is supposed to look!
Slicing the apples. I used empire which are sweet but worked well anyway - may tart was probably sweeter than intended but that's how I like it!
The pastry over the apples right before it goes in the oven.
The tart inverted on a plate. The shell cracked a little in one area because the edges stuck to the pie plate. You could leave the skin on the apples to give it color. Adding cinnamon may give it color too, although it's not typically used in a French tart.

I say to grease the sides of the pan because the portion of the dough I tucked into the plate stuck to the pan and didn't cleanly invert. Also, I had to make the caramel sauce twice because the first time the sugar burnt. The second time I was very cautious and I think I didn't let the sugar get to the correct stage before I poured it over the apples - as soon as the caramel hit the apples, it sizzled and then hardened. It baked up just fine but I think it is intended to let it get to more of a soft ball stage. Either way, it will work. My tart didn't look fancy, but it was very tasty. I need to work on my pinwheel formation. I lost count of how many apples I peeled so I think I just tried to crame too many in there! Once the fall comes around and there are tons of apples available, I'll try again at home where I have a tarte pan. Chez Greg is slowly getting a stocked kitchen but it's a work in progress.

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