Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apple Tart Tatin

In my last post I mentioned I always wanted to cook Tart Tatin. Lara mentioned one of her friends from out of town was going to be in town this week and she wanted to know if I would make dinner. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.

First you make up the dough. It is a tart dough, which is like a pie dough only it has sugar and an egg in it. When the dough has been rolled out it goes in the fridge and you start on the apples. The recipe called for Granny Smith. A lot of recipes call for Granny Smith because they are good for baking, they are available all year, and they are available everywhere. If it is apple season, feel free to support your local farms and buy any good baking apple. I am using Braeburn here.

You quarter the apples and cook them on top of the stove in butter and sugar. You cook them on high heat until the butter/sugar starts to caramelize a bit and the apples brown. This takes 10-15 minutes. At this point you flip all the apples over with a fork. As you can see from the picture it looked nice at this point.

Once the apples have been flipped you continue cooking on high for another five minutes to brown the other side of the apples. This is where everything went wrong.

It doesn't take very long from the point where the apples look great and the caramel starts to burn and turn very black. I took a quick taste to make sure it was really bad and it was. I didn't have enough apples to start over and no other options for desert so I decided to try and fix it. It was only about a quarter of the apples that burned - it was mostly just the caramel. I took each apple out, cut off anything that looked black, and carefully placed it into a new pan. Some of the apples fell apart and it didn't look nearly as nice, but I saved most of the apples. I then quick cooked up some butter, sugar to make a new caramel (not burnt this time) and poured it over the apples.

At this point I continued on with the recipe by topping it with the crust and baking it in the oven. Overall it didn't turn out too bad. It definitely didn't look as nice as it should have. It is supposed to be the nice ring of apples all perfectly spaced - but that is hard to do when cutting off burnt pieces while burning your fingers on 500 degree caramel. You could also taste a little bitterness in spots because of the burning - but not bad considering. I would make this again for sure but next time I will keep a better eye on it near the end.

Apple Tart Tatin
(Source : Cook's Illustrated Feb 1996)
Serves 8


Flaky Egg Pastry
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter chilled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 large egg, cold and beaten
Caramelized Apples
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 pounds Granny smith apples (six large), peeled, quartered, and cored
Tangy Cream Topping
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, cold

  1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter over dry ingredients; process until mixture resembles cornmeal, 7 to 12 seconds. Turn mixture into medium bowl; add egg and stir with fork until little balls form. Press balls together with back of fork , then gather dough into ball with hands. Wrap with plastic, then flatten into 4 inch disk. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. (Can be stored overnight; let stand at room temperature to warm slightly before using).
  2. Unwrap dough and turn onto well floured surface. Sprinkle with additional flour. Roll into 12 inch circle, strewing flour underneath to preven sticking. Slide lightly floured, rimless cookie sheet or pizza peel under crust, cover with plastic, and refrigerate while preparing apples. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle; heat oven to 375.
  3. For the filling: Melt the butter in a 9 inch oven safe skillet; remove from heat and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Arrange apples in a circle around outside of skillet. Lift each quarter onto its edge while adding the next apple so that the quarters stand almost straight up. Fill the middle of the skillet with the remaining quarters.
  4. Return skillet to high heat; cook until juices turn from butterscotch to rich amber color, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and using fork or paring knife, turn apples onto uncaramelized sides. Return skillet to high heat; boil to cook uncaramelized sides of apples (about 5 minutes).
  5. Remove skillet from heat. Slide prepared dough over skillet, and, taking care not to burn fingers, tuck dough edges against skillet wall.
  6. Bake until crust is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set skillet on wire rack; let cool about 20 minutes. Loosen edges with knife, place serving plate over skillet, turn tart upside-down, then remove skillet.
  7. For the topping: With electric mixer, beat heavy cream and sour cream until mixture thickens and holds soft but definite peaks. Accompany each wedge of tart with generous dollop of topping.

No comments: