i had always wanted to try making a tarte tatin, but had never quite gotten around to it. then this week, we had a pile of people coming over for dinner, and a bunch of organic apples from our veg box, so the timing seemed just right!
i did a bunch of research and read a number of recipes - jamie oliver's, smitten kitchen's, canadian living's, and then i found this wonderful article in the guardian that compared and contrasted the various techniques while discussing the history of the dish, and decided that was the recipe to go with.
then i remembered that on of our party is dairy-free, and "buttery" seemed essential to tatin success, so i decided to switch to smitten kitchen's simplest apple tart instead.
i made the pastry with a couple of tweaks; shortening instead of butter, i swapped out some of the all-purpose for pastry flour, and i upped the salt and sugar a wee bit. when it came time to bake, i started melting some margarine to replace the melted butter that you're supposed to brush over the apples, and thought - screw it, i will make a tatin!
so i winged it. i dumped a bunch of sugar in the pan, caramelised it (remembering the guardian suggestion that it needed caramelising before the apples were added), decided it wasn't enough, and added more. cut and arranged the apples (a mix of red delicious, which you're not supposed to use for pie, and spartan, because my son is crazy for ancient greece) according to what i remembered of the canadian living recipe. i love the smitten kitchen technique of using a melon baller to core apples; will be doing that again! cooked on the stove top for a while. worried that the apples were cooking only on the bottom and not the top, so cooked them covered for a while. worried it was getting too soupy, so through it in the oven for a while. then finally topped with the pastry, which was too big a circle, so i folded over/rolled in the edges.
the apples were a stunning deep caramel colour and meltingly rich, the pastry was a perfect light crispy contrast. and the rolled-up edges contained the caramel nicely.
it was delicious!
so i have concluded tarte tatin is somewhat foolproof. really, anything with caramelised sugar is delish. but next time i will use butter.
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
6 tbs shortening
a few spoons of ice water
1/2 cup margarine (or butter!)
1 cup sugar
6 or 7 apples
combine flours, salt, and sugar. cut shortening into pieces and cut into the flour with a fork. blend in water just until it holds together. form into a disc and chill for at least 30 minutes.
roll out the dough till it's about 1 1/2" bigger than the skillet you are using for the apples. move to the freezer to rest.
peel and core the apples and cut into eighths.
melt the margarine-or-butter in an oven proof skillet with half a cup of sugar. let cook over medium till deep amber. stir in the remaining sugar and arrange the apple wedges standing up in the pan. if necessary, cut come of them into thinner wedges to fill in the top so it is somewhat level. cook over low till the sugar is bubbling up all brown around them, then cover and cook 10 minutes. uncover and cook 10 minutes more.
top with pastry, rolling up the edges to tuck in around the apples. bake on top shelf of 400f oven for 30 minutes.
let sit for 5 minutes, then flip upside down onto a serving plate. i was a bit anxious about this, due to all the warnings on jamie oliver's recipe, but i put on my oven mitts and it was actually easy.