Tarte Tatin (tart tah-TAN) – A famous French upside-down apple tart (actually a sweet upside-down cake) made by covering the bottom of a shallow baking dish with butter and sugar, then apples and finally a pastry crust. While baking, the sugar and butter create a delicious caramel that becomes the topping when the tart is inverted onto a serving plate.
There is one rule for eating Tarte Tatin, which is scrupulously observed. It must be served warm, so the cream melts on contact. To the French, a room temperature Tarte Tatin isn’t worth the pan it was baked in.
Makes 8 servings
- frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-ounce package)
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 7 to 9 Gala apples (3 to 4 pounds), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
- Special equipment: a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Roll pastry sheet into a 101/2-inch square on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin. Brush off excess flour and cut out a 10-inch round with a sharp knife, using a plate as a guide. Transfer round to a baking sheet and chill.
Caramel Apple Filling: Cut the butter into little bits and scatter on a 10-inch baking dish. Shake the sugar over it and add 2 tablespoons of water to keep it from crystallizing. Caramelize the sugar by placing the dish on a medium heat. Meanwhile, peel the apples, cut in 2 and remove the core. Cut them into 4 big pieces. Once the butter and sugar have caramelized take the pan off the heat. Place the pieces of apple vertically on top of the caramel in the baking tin, taking care to fill the gaps with more pieces so they stick together in a solid mass. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the apples. Put the dish back on a heat diffuser for 15 minutes at a medium heat until the caramel starts bubbling up through the apples.
Roll the pastry out and place over the apples folding it in at the edges. Make 3 or 4 holes with a knife and 1 in the middle to let steam out when baking. Bake for 20 minutes and then let it rest for 15 minutes. It is important that you do this otherwise the apples will fall apart when you turn it over. Take a dinner plate and put it over the baking tin. Turn it over. Slowly remove the baking tin.