Thanksgiving is upon us! You know what that means… pies! There is nothing better than pumpkin pie, especially when it’s home-made and as strange as it could seem, I don’t like making pumpkin pie… I just like eating it! So instead, I like to bring a French touch to an American Holiday table – yes, the Tarte Tatin is the kind of dessert that fits right in and will please everyone with its heavy-handed butter overload.
If you like butter, apples, butter, caramel, butter and the taste of a rustic tart then this is for you. I like mine heavy on the caramel – dark brown color. However, be careful not to burn the apples in the process.
Ingredients (for the tart pastry dough):
2 1/4 cup (220 g) of plain flour
pinch of salt
1 stick and 2 Tbsp (150 g) of butter – chilled and diced
1 egg yolk
In a bowl, sift the flour, add the salt and the butter. With your fingertips, rub in the butter in the flour until the mixture resembles big chunks – like breadcrumbs.
Add the yolk and 2-3 teaspoons of cold water. Mix with the blade of a palette knife (if you’re in a hurry, mix the dough in a food processor). When the dough starts to come together, gather it into a ball. The dough needs to hold together when pinched. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Between two pieces of waxed paper or parchment, roll the dough into a circle that’s about 11 inches (28 cm) wide. Prick the dough with a fork all over, cover and refrigerate.
Ingredients (for the tart):
5-7 firm Granny Smith apples – the Russets are better for the Tatin but are hard to find. Granny Smiths give a nice texture and acidity to the tart.
6 Tbsp (85 g) of butter
6 Tbsp (75 g) of sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Peel, core and quarter 4 apples. Melt the butter in a 10 inch (25 cm) over-proof iron skillet. Add the sugar and wait until sugar and butter have melted together. Coat the sides of the skillet with a brush. Remove the pan from the heat.
Arrange the apples tightly in the pan. Lay them with their rounded sides down or against the side of the skillet. Peel and use the other apples to fill in the gaps. There should be no space in the end. Put the pan back on medium heat and cook until it bubbles – 2 min. Continue to cook for 20 minutes if you want a light caramel or 35-40 minutes if you’re like me and prefer a heavy dark colored caramel. The apple juices should be mostly boiled away. Use your pastry brush to baste the apples so that the top is also caramelized.
While cooking, sprinkle the lemon juice, the vanilla and the nutmeg on top of the apples.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C). Line a rimmed backing sheet with foil.
Let the skillet and the apples sit for 10 minutes so the caramel can settle. Let your rolled out dough sit at room temperature. Place the dough on top of the apples and tuck in the overhang. Press down around the edges to enclose it completely. Place the skillet on the baking sheet and put directly in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden.
Let the tart sit for 10 minutes and run a knife around the edges to loosen any apples stuck to the sides. Cover the skillet with a large plate and invert the tart onto the platter. Remove the skillet. If any apple sticks to the pan, just push it back into the hole in the tart. Serve the tart at room temperature or warm if you can.