ARRANGE APPLE SLICES on a bed of caramel, top them with pastry crust, unmold so the crust is on the bottom, and what do you get? La Tarte Tatin. I’ve made this elegant, too-delicious-for-words dessert hundreds of times, and still get a thrill while unmolding it. Here’s the recipe, in words and pictures:
Ingredients for one 8-inch diameter tart, serving 6-8
6 Golden Delicious, Crispin, or Granny Smith apples
The juice and zest of one lemon
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pastry Dough – I use half the recipe for Pate Brisee Fine; in a pinch you can use one store-bought pie crust
Necessary Equipment: a well-seasoned, 8-inch diameter cast-iron skillet; a bulb-baster
1. The lemon – into a large bowl, zest the yellow rind. Then cut the fruit in half, and squeeze the juice from each half into the bowl. To keep seeds from falling into the bowl, I wrap a paper towel around each half, as above, before squeezing.
2. The apples – Core, peel and quarter; cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Add these to the lemon mixture, and toss the works with a half-cup of sugar. Let the apples exude their juices for 20 minutes; drain.
5. Adding the apples – in a single layer on top of the hot caramel, arrange the apple slices in some attractive pattern, as above. Dump the remaining apples on top without arranging them — this layer won’t be on “public view.”
6. Basting and preliminary stove-top cooking – set the skillet over a medium-low flame, and, being careful not to dislodge the the first layer of apples, suck up the caramel with the bulb baster and spread it over the apples (I’d offer you a better picture here, but basting boiling caramel with one hand while holding a camera with the other seemed a little dangerous.) Then cover the pan and simmer the apples for 15 minutes or so until they are tender but not mushy. Remove from heat. And, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
7. The pastry topping – roll out the dough one inch larger than your skillet; place it over the apples, and tuck it in along the pan’s edge. Then cut four or five small holes in the pastry, as above, to allow steam to escape.
8. Baking – 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Set the tart on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for exactly 20 minutes; the pastry crust will have browned slightly, and the caramel and apple juices — if you tilt the pan — will be syrupy-thick.
9. Unmolding – the moment the pan comes out of the oven, set an inverted plate or serving platter on it, and quickly flip the two. If a few apples stick to the pan, as sometimes happens, just replace them on the tart (or eat them, as reader Terry suggests).
If you like this recipe, kindly drop me a line in the comments field. I love hearing from you.
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