Recipe for Apple Tart (Tarte Tatin)
Tradition has it that this tart was developed by two innkeeper sisters who were running low on fuel to keep their oven going. Needing to make some apple tarts, they decided to cook the apples in sugar on the stovetop, cover them with crust, and “bake” the tarts covered with a pot lid.
Regardless of the why or where, the resulting tart is delectable. In this recipe, the apples are still caramelized on top of the stove, but after the pastry is laid on top, the tart is baked in the oven until golden.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
6 tablespoons butter, cut into slices
2⁄3 cup sugar
Approximately 6 to 7 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
Roll the puff pastry until 1⁄8 inch thick. Cut into an 11-inch circle. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Prick the pastry with a fork and refrigerate until ready to use.
Melt the butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook until the sugar melts and caramelizes. When the sugar looks like liquid caramel, remove it from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Carefully arrange the apple quarters on top of the caramel, packing them in as tightly as possible. Cook over medium heat until the apples are tender. Do not stir or move the apples!
Place the puff pastry circle on top of the apples. Use the end of a wooden spoon to tuck the edges into the pan.
Place on the center rack in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.
Remove the pan from the oven. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Place a large serving plate on top of the pan. Over the kitchen sink and in one swift motion, flip the pan over so that the tart is apple side up on the plate. Replace any apples that have stuck to the pan. Drizzle any remaining syrup over the apples. Serve warm.
To make a banana tarte tatin, slice 4 underripe bananas into 3⁄4-inch-thick slices. Follow recipe Steps 1 and 2. In Step 3, eliminate the apples and cover the bottom of the pan with banana slices. Cook over low heat until the caramel covers the bottom of the pan. Proceed with Steps 4 through 6.
For a mango version, replace the bananas with 2 diced, almost ripe mangoes. Cook over low heat until the mangoes release their juices and combine with the hot caramel. Spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Proceed with Steps 4 through 6.
Homemade puff pastry is laborious to make. Pepperidge Farm makes a very acceptable version available in the freezer section of your local supermarket. It comes 2 sheets to a box.