Tarte Tatin - French Apple TartThis method of pastry making is wonderfully simple and produces a delightful apple tart. For those of you that haven't been to France, the pastry shops - Patisseries - have shop windows with the most amazing confections displayed. Most French women will buy these special pastries for their families but this recipe is very straightforward. The original recipe for this tart was cooked over a direct heat in a cast iron pan so that the apples and sugar would caramelize and produce slightly singed edges to the apples. However, the majority of people don't have cast iron bakeware and the original stove would have been a solid top cast iron stove similar to the British AGA stove now displayed in gourmet magazines.
So don't despair, this recipe works and it doesn't matter if you don't arrange the apples like Martha Stewart. Arranging upside down is confusing and you'll do better next time. And I promise there will be a next time once your family tastes this recipe. On a down to earth note, less pastry to deal with and less apples to peel, gets this tart in the oven quicker with less calories - so less guilt factor.
Method1. Pre heat oven to 400°
2. In a 1qt pan heat butter, sugar and maple syrup until butter melts. Increase heat to medium and 'cook' syrup mix for about 3-5 minutes until it looks bubbly and thicker. Cool slightly (so glass or ceramic doesn't crack from thermal shock) and then pour into base of 9" pie plate - not loose bottomed or you will lose all the tasty syrup.
3. In a different small saucepan melt butter with water. Do not boil.
4. Mix together flour and sugar. Remove butter pan from heat and add flour mixture all in one go. Stir in well with a wooden spoon until a solid lump is formed. Depending on the type of flour used i.e. King Arthur v Store brand, you might need to add up to one more tablespoon of water.
5. While still hot from the pan, roll out pastry between 2 sheets of saran wrap to make a circle big enough to fit the inside edge of a 9" pie plate. This can be measured by turning the pie plate upside down on the pastry to check for size. Don't worry if the pastry doesn't look beautiful as it will become the bottom hidden by apples.
6. Arrange apples decoratively on top of butter/syrup mix remembering that the tart will be turned upside down for serving so what is down now is the top for serving. I find it easiest to put the halved apples in a radiating flower petal like the hands of a clock and just press them slightly to show the slices. Put additional apple slices on top of decorative slices to give a greater depth of apples.
7. Mix together cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on top of apple layers. If you put cinnamon next to the butter layer then the tart would have a speckly appearance from the cinnamon.
8. Take off top piece of saran wrap. Put your hand under the bottom piece of saran wrap and use it to lift up the dough and flip it on top of apples. Don't worry if it cracks a bit just patch it together as it won't be visible for serving. Tuck any extra dough down the inside edge of the pie plate not on the top edge or over the outside edge.
9. Place on baking sheet in preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is a deep brown without being burnt. Cover with foil if browning too fast. If your oven cooks fast, then dig the tip of a sharp knife into the middle of the dough to see how well cooked it is. The pastry should be light and crispy throughout with no raw doughiness.
10. Remove from oven, let stand for about 10 minutes so the juices solidify slightly. Don't leave for longer before you turn the tart out or the caramel will harden. Warm slightly in oven or microwave if that happens. Serve with ice cream and Indulge!
Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, is a qualified teacher and offers a Personal Chef and Catering Service. She can be seen frequently on WMUR ABC's Channel 9 Cooks Corner. Contact Oonagh on 424-6412 or visit her web site at Geocities.com/CookingWithOonagh.