Adapted from Orangette (Thank you, Molly! This is now a staple!)
Though this looks like it involves many steps, it’s a pretty simple, straight-forward recipe – something you can pull off on a weeknight with little preparation ahead. I cheated a little (but not as much as some Top Chef contestant, given the stakes), and used Dufour brand puff pastry. You can make your own traditional puff pastry, or go with a quick puff recipe, or cheat, like me, and go with a pre-made pastry dough.
5-6 large apples, preferably Golden Delicious or Ginger Gold
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
6 Tbs unsalted butter, divided
About 14 ounces puff pastry (I recommend Dufour, if you go with store-bought; be sure to let it thaw for about an hour before using if frozen)
Peel apples and and quarter them. Remove the cores so that each quarter has a flat inner side. In a large bowl, combine the the apple quarters with the lemon juice and ½ cup of the sugar – toss both together to evenly coat, and set aside for 30 minutes to macerate. The apples, combined with lemon juice and sugar, will give some juice.
Set a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat (think Lodge or Le Creuset) and melt 4 tablespoons of butter. To the melted butter (be careful not to burn) add the remaining 1 cup sugar, along with a few tablespoons of the apple-lemon juice. Stir to mix until combined. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is a smooth, bubbly, pale caramel color. [What is pale caramel color? Think the color of light-colored honey - and you got it!]
Once your caramel reaches the desired color, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Carefully, as not to burn yourself, place the apple quarters rounded side facing down in a pretty, circular pattern. Arrange a second layer of apples on top wherever they fit and don’t worry if this second layer isn’t the prettiest – it’ll be under the top layer (no one will ever know!). Dot the apples with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into tiny dice.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook the apples over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, and from time to time, spoon a bit of the caramel over them. Also, press the apples down gently using a spoon. Just be sure that the caramel and apples cook pretty evenly throughout – you might need to shift the pan as necessary. When the caramel turns dark amber and grows thick, remove the pan from heat. Your apples should still be slightly firm, but showing some softness about the sides. You don’t want your apples entirely soft, or your liquid to go too brown – this means you’ve overcooked your apples and caramel.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pasty – should be about 3/16 inches thick. With a knife and a parchment paper circle (about 10 inches in diameter), cut out your pastry shell. [For an easy-peasy tip on how to cut your parchment circles out, Michael Ruhlman has a genius suggestion for you.]
Carefully, as not to burn yourself, lay your pastry circle over the apples, and tuck the overlap between the apples and the inside of the pan. I found that using a fork to help me tuck the ends in was very helpful.
Bake your the tart for 30-35 minutes. Before placing in the oven, aide a rimmed baking sheet under your skillet to catch any drips. After the allotted time, remove the skillet from the oven and allow the tart to rest for a couple of minutes. Once rested, take a look at the bottom of the pan (tilt it to see better). If you see a lot of juice, pour most of it out. Allow some of the juice to remain or your apples might attach themselves to the pan and thus yield a rather messy plating.
Put on your oven mitts. Place a serving platter over the skillet. You want to do the following over a counter that you can get messy and wipe clean. With a decisive motion, both hands placed firmly on the 9 o’clock and the 3 o’clock holding down the plate to the pan, flip the pan over so that the plate is now on the bottom. Gently set the plate down and remove the skillet off. Your tart should have easily separated from the pan and now sitting pretty on the serving plate.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Supposedly serves 8, but really (let’s be honest here), 6.
tarte tatin originally published on sassyradish.com
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