Apple Tarte Tatin

Recipe and photo contributed by Lynda Balslev Yield:  8 servings
Prep Time:  30 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour

Apple Tarte Tatin

I use a sour cream pastry which creates a crumbly, cookie-like crust. As the tart bakes in the oven, the caramel from the fruit filling might bubble up in spots through the crust. Fear not: When the tart cools any wayward caramel will harden into a sticky coating like the outside of a candied apple.

Ingredients

Sour Cream Crust:

1½ cups (181 grams) all purpose flour

3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup (170 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut in ½-inch pieces

⅓ cup full fat sour cream

Filling:

½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 4 pieces

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (211 grams) granulated sugar

6 large tart baking apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and halved

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Calvados Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons Calvados or apple brandy

Instructions

To prepare the pastry: 

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly to blend.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is pea-sized.
  3. Add the sour cream and pulse until moist clumps form.
  4. Gather the dough into a ball, then flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. (Alternatively, freeze up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in refrigerator before using).

To prepare the tart: 

  1. Arrange the butter in a large oven-proof skillet with sloping sides (preferably cast iron). Sprinkle 1 cup sugar evenly over the butter and pan.
  2. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts, the sugar is partially dissolved, and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
  3. Arrange the apples closely together, core-side up, in a circular pattern in the skillet. (You will have a few extra pieces of apple. Cut the halves in half or large chunks to fill in any gaps). Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until a thick amber colored syrup forms, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the skillet from time to time to ensure even cooking. Do not skimp on this step, as a rich peanut-butter color is desired to ensure a deep caramel.
  4. While the filling is cooking, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  5. Dust the pastry with flour. Roll out pastry between 2 pieces of parchment paper to a round shape about 2 inches larger in diameter than the skillet. Refrigerate until the filling is ready.
  6. Once the caramel color is achieved, remove the skillet from the heat.
  7. Working quickly, peel off the top layer of parchment from the pastry. Invert the pastry over the filling. Carefully peel off the remaining parchment. (The heat from the filling will begin to melt the pastry, so work as quickly as possible). If there are any gaps in the pastry, fill in with any pastry remnants. (This will be the bottom of the crust, so it doesn’t have to look pretty.)  Cut 3-4 slits in the pastry, then brush with some of the egg glaze. Bake the tart until the pastry is deep golden brown and firm when tapped, about 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the tart from oven and cool on rack 1 minute. Using a metal spatula, cut around the edge of the skillet to loosen the pastry. Place a serving dish over the skillet, and, using oven mitts, quickly invert the tart onto the dish. If any of the apples or caramel remain sticking to the pan, remove with the spatula and arrange on top of tart. There will be a minute or so of time for you to adjust the look of the tart before the caramel begins to harden. Cool tart slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with Calvados Whipped Cream.

To prepare the whipped cream: 

  1. Beat the cream in the bowl of a mixer until traces of the whisk appear. Add the sugar and Calvados and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Kitchen Tips

  • The sour cream pastry is very easy to prepare and less fussy than a pate sucree. It may be applied to the tart in a very uneven manner and will still result in a golden crust. Be sure to work quickly when laying it over the apples. If it sticks to the parchment or breaks into pieces, do not get flustered – just get as much as you can on the tart, then cobble in the gaps. If it begins to soften too much, then gently use a knife to spread it. Once it bakes, the pastry will spread and harden.
  • Inverting the tart can be intimidating, but there is nothing to do except just do it. Be sure to have a firm grip on the pan and the serving plate with oven mitts. Once inverted, before you remove the pan, you can scooch the tart to the center of the plate if needed. Any wayward caramel can be scooped up and spread over the tart.
  • In addition to apples, try using pears, quince, and stone fruit, such as plums, apricots, peaches, and nectarines in tarte tatins.

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