Tarte Tatin AKA Caramelized Apple Tart

I have not been feeling well today. Thank goodness my best food friend E came to the rescue and sent me this Caramelized Apple Tart that he made this weekend. I do however still feel he is taunting me and my inability to work with baked goods, although he swears this is one I can do. Challenge accepted! All the times he mentions careful, that is just for me, he knows I will get injured! Thanks E!

Tarte Tatin AKA Caramelized Apple Tart

6-7 large apples, preferably Golden Delicious.
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
6 Tbs unsalted butter, divided (salted butter works if it’s all you have)
Puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm has one with 3 sheets at 17.3 oz – Traders Joe’s has an all butter one with two sheets at 16 oz.  Let defrost about 30 minutes before rolling) 

Peel and quarter the apples, removing the cores so that each quarter has a flat inner side.  Toss the apple quarters in a large bowl with the lemon juice and ½ cup of the sugar.  Set aside for 30 minutes.

In a 9-10 inch cast-iron skillet set over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter.  Add the remaining 1 cup sugar, along with a few tablespoons of the apple-lemon juices.  Stir to mix.  Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is a smooth, bubbly, brown caramel color.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add apple quarters, arranging them rounded-side-down in a decorative pattern.  BE EXTRA CAREFUL when putting them in the pan as the caramel will be HOT.  Apples can be touching each other.  See Photo.  Top the apples with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into small cubes. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the apples over medium-low to medium heat for about 15 – 20 minutes, occasionally spooning the bubbling caramel liquid over them.  You can move them around but just make sure that the round bottoms are on the bottom as that will be the top of the tart when you invert it on a plate.  Be sure and watch to make sure that no one area of the pan is bubbling more than another.  The pan can be shifted as necessary so that the apples cook evenly.  They are ready when the liquid in the pan has turned to a thicker amber color.  Don’t go more than 15-20 though as it will still bake for 35 minutes in the oven.  Hopefully the apples will still be slightly firm but it doesn’t really matter.  Do not allow them to get entirely soft or the liquid to turn dark brown.  Remove the pan from the heat.

On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry out so it is large enough to cover the pan, about 10 – 11 inches in diameter (1 inch wider) all around than the skillet.  Estimating is fine and it does not have to be perfect.  If you wanted to be precise you could cut it in a circle with a knife.  I usually don’t.  Extra imperfect dough It will just make the tart look more rustic and home-made if one part of it has more crust than another.  It just needs to cover all the apples when it gets tucked in.  If using the Pepperidge Farm from the “regular store”, you will have to use part of another sheet to make one circle 10-11 inches.  Just press it together with your fingers to get one piece.  One of the Trader Joes pastry sheets (two come in a box) can be rolled out to fit.  Carefully lay the pastry over the apples in the skillet, tucking the overlap down between the apples and the inside of the pan.

Place the skillet on a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of foil on it in case it bubble over a little and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the pastry has risen, and is dry and deep golden brown.  Maybe more of a light brown and really done without being burnt brown than golden brown.  Remove the skillet from the oven, and let it to rest for a 5-10 minutes.  Place a serving platter or large plate upside-down over the skillet and, working quickly and carefully (it’s hot!), invert the tart onto the platter.  Slowly lift the pan off the inverted goodness.  Rearrange any apple slices that may have slipped or stuck to the skillet (they rarely do).  Serve warm or at room temperature either by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  If you wanted to get really crazy, you could add a tablespoon or two of sugar and a tablespoon of vanilla extract to a pint of sour cream and use that as a topping.