those french know their tarts!

Last week I made tarte tatin with pears, and I kind of burned it (overcaramelization). We still ate it, though. Anyway, yesterday I made another one but with apples. It was more successful than its predecessor (I know it’s not that beautiful, but it was pretty tasty):
tart tatin.JPG
I used the recipe from Baking Illustrated, an amazing cookbook (and really, those Cook’s Illustrated people can do no wrong in my book).
Read on for the recipe!
(Oh, and I will try to work up a pattern of some sort for the Japanese-style apron, but it might take me a while … )

Tarte Tatin (recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into little chunks
1 large egg, cold and beaten
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
6 Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored, and peeled
To make the pastry, it’s best to have a food processor. I used my mini one, and it worked very well. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the processor and pulse. Add the butter chunks and pulse until the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 7-12 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the beaten egg and stir with a fork until little tiny balls form. Squish the balls together with the back of the fork then take your hands and gather the dough into a ball. Set the ball onto a piece of plastic wrap, press into a 4″ disk, wrap, then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Unwrap the dough, and if it’s super hard, let it soften at room temp until it’s pliable enough to roll out. On a floured wurface, roll the dough to a 12″ circle. Slide the pastry onto a baking sheet or a Silpat (I just rolled it out on the Silpat and left it on there), cover with plastic wrap, and stick in teh fridge while you prepare the other ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make sure the rack is in the upper-middle position.
For the apples, melt the butter in a 9 or 10-inch OVENPROOF skillet. When the butter has melted, remove from the heat and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top. Place the apples cut-side down in a circular pattern. Fill in the inside with more apples. Make sure the apple quarters are upright and not tilted over.
Put the skillet back on the heat over high heat. Cook until the liquid turns from a butterscotch hue to a deep amber color, about 10-12 minutes (actually, it took only about 5 minutes for me). Don’t let it burn or turn too dark (unless you like the burned caramel flavor). Remove from heat and flip the apple quarters over so the cut side is facing up. The recipe suggests using the tip of a paring knife, but I used chopsticks and found them to work really well. Return to heat and cook the uncaramelized sides, about 5 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and slide the prepared pastry over the top. Carefully tuck the edges of the dough between the apple filling and the wall of the skillet. Stick the skillet into the oven and bake about 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove and let the skillet cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes. Take a knife and/or spatula and run it around the edges to loosen the pastry a bit. Put a plate on top of the skillet and turn it upside down to flip the tarte out of the skillet and onto the plate.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

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5 Responses to those french know their tarts!

  1. claudia says:

    Do you run so that you can eat? I bicycle so that I can eat….but I don’t eat as well as you do, that’s for damn sure.

  2. Nice job on the tarte tatin, Mariko! I’ve always wanted to make one but have feared dropping the entire tart when I flip it over onto the plate… I agree, those Cooks Illustrated books are amazing. I have the Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball ( and it’s the ultimate reference. The super-scientific slant on baking is so appealing to the geek in me.

  3. Rachael says:

    Gah. I can’t come here when I’m this hungry. Drool.

  4. stef says:

    agreed. chris kimball has really done some great things…with his cooks illustrated team. mike swears by the american classics cookbook and baking illustrated 🙂 tried and true recipes.

  5. Heidi says:

    Hey! That looks like one of those little blocks of dried dates you can get at the Middle Eastern grocery.
    I bet it was delicious. Anything caramelized is fine by me.

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