For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.
I like to think I know how to make pies. They are a big part of Thanksgiving in my family — we frequently have so many pies that only half of them get cut into on Thanksgiving Day, and the rest get saved for breakfast and dessert the next day. My pies are always pretty traditional, though. Apple or berry or pumpkin in a double crust or maybe a single crust topped with oatmeal streusel. Nothing fancy. All my pies have been right-side up.
Until this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge, that is. This month’s recipe was for a Tarte Tatin, a French pastry that is essentially an open-face apple pie.
And rough puff pastry.
So it’s a very fancy open-face apple pie.
And it tastes really, really good.
That’s probably to be expected. The ingredient list here is so short: butter, sugar, and apples make up the bulk of the filling. And while the ingredients this rough puff pastry are essentially the same as a basic shortcrust pastry(your standard pie crust recipe), the method here involves lamination, causing the pastry to puff when baked. It may sound intimidating, but if you can fold a letter and roll out dough, you can do this.
Actually, you should do this. It takes time, but the results are nothing like your grandma’s apple pie!
For the rough puff pastry
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, cold
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup ice cold water
For the apples
- 6 large or 7-8 medium-sized apples (Granny Smith, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, and Jonagold work well)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
- pinch salt
- 1 batch rough puff pastry
For the rough puff pastry: In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-sized pieces of butter left. Make a well in the center and add cold water. Mix with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.
Turn the dough onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Gently knead the dough to bring it together, but don’t work it too much – it should still look rough. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 10″ long. Fold the bottom up to the middle and the top down over it, like a letter. Turn the dough a 1/4 turn so the open edges are facing you. Roll out the dough until it is 10″ long again. Fold and roll again, for a total of five times. If the dough gets sticking during folding and rolling, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. After all five rolls, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
For the apples: Peel and quarter apples. Remove the cores so the each apple quarter has a flat inner side. Place apples in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Set aside for about 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Melt butter with remaining 1 cup sugar and a pinch of salt in a 9″ or 10″ heavy-bottomed oven-proof skillet (such as cast iron) over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar becomes a pale, smooth caramel (this took about 15 minutes for me).
Add the apple slices to the caramel, round side down. Cook over medium heat 15-20 minutes, using a spoon to cover them with some of the caramel. When the apples are starting to soften but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat.
Making the tart: Roll the rough puff pastry into a circle about 1″ large in diameter than your skillet. Lay it over the filling, tucking the edges between the apples and the pan. Cut a few steam vents in the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Increase the temperature to 400°F for the last five minutes if the pastry isn’t browning.
Remove from the oven and let sit until the caramel stops bubbling. Place a serving platter that is larger than your skillet upside down on top of the pan, and carefully flip so the tart ends up on the serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.