Tarte Tatin – caramelized upside down apple tart
Foodies tend to divide into two groups: those who love to bake and those who love to cook. I often wonder what category I fit in because I kinda like doing both. I do more cooking than baking though. I love to bake and make desserts but, you know, it’s more a special occasion thing. We don’t have desserts every day.
Today I was in the mood to bake something with apples. Tarte Tatin is a classic French dessert and has been in my repertoire a long time because as much as I like chocolate, I prefer the sweet and tangy flavour of fruit based desserts, especially apples. Give me a choice between chocolate cake or tarte tatin and it’s no contest: I’ll take the tarte tatin every time. And a scoop of ice cream.
Tart tatin is essentially an upside down apple dessert made with either puff pastry or a flaky pastry. Puff pastry is not easy to make and although I have made it in the past I no longer do it and when I need puff pastry I buy it from a good bakery that uses butter in the dough so the flavour is right. Once you have the pastry, making tart tatin is easy.You cook the tart with the pastry on top and then invert it to serve. I made two individual tarts but you can make it in a larger size tart pan as well.
How do you get the caramel on top (or bottom) of the tart? You can either make a caramel and pour it into the tart molds before laying the apples over, or you can sprinkle the mold with sugar and allow it to caramelize as it bakes. Julia Child says that if this doesn’t produce the right caramel colour then sift plenty of powdered sugar over the apples and run the baked tart, apple side up, under the broiler to finish the caramelization. The tarts in the image below are shown as they came out of the oven lightly caramelized. I thought I’d try Julia’s method and sprinkled them with powdered sugar and placed under the broiler. See result in the main image above.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 sheet puff pastry
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons soft butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Butter 4 tart molds (5″ round size), buttering the bottom and sides.
To make the caramel place the sugar and water in a pot, cover with a glass lid and cook until the sugar begins to turn amber. Remove the lkid and keep cooking watching it carefully. When it begins to turn deep amber remover from heat. Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared molds to coat the bottom with the caramel.
Peel and cut the apples into 6-8 wedges. Place in a bowl with the lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
Cut the pastry into rounds slightly larger than the tart molds.
Lay enough apple wedges over the caramel, with the thicker side of the apples down.
Sprinkle with a little sugar and a dab or two of butter.
Lay a puff pastry round over the apples, tucking the edges in down the side inside the mold. Make a few cuts in the pastry with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape during baking.
Bake at 400F until the pastry is golden and crisp.
Let cool, then run a sharp knife around the edges of the tart mold to loosen up the tart. Invert onto a plate.
If the apples are not nice and golden caramel colour you can sprinkle them with sugar and place under the broiler for a couple of minutes to caramelize the top. Be careful not to burn them.