For those of you who plan to crash one of my Thanksgiving dinners some day in the future, you should know in advance that there are no apple pies to be found at my Thanksgiving table. Instead you will find apple tarte tatin. It’s not that I don’t like apple pie, it’s just I like apple tarte tatin better. It’s basically the French version of apple pie, and it’s an upside down tart baked in a skillet. You make a vanilla bean caramel, saute some prettily arranged sliced apples in that caramel, top it with a crust, and bake it, until the apples have soaked up every last drop of the caramel goodness. Then when you take it out of the oven, you let it cool slightly, invert, and devour. The key here is to use a really good quality butter. I always splurge for this and get a high quality European butter (and note how delicious the butter smells). Here’s how to make it:
Makes one 10 inch tart, serves 8.
5 oz flour (1 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp ice water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tbsp pieces
2 lbs of Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples (about 6 apples), cored and sliced into quarters, then each quarter sliced into quarters again
To make the crust, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest a couple times in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until it’s cut up into pea sized pieces. Add the egg yolk and 2 tbsp of the ice water. Pulse to distribute the liquid.
The mixture will look crumbly, but if you pinch it together and it holds, it’s ready. If not, add another tbsp of ice water and pulse to distribute. Dump the dough out on a big piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic wrap to shape the dough into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and preferably a couple hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the sugar, apple cider, lemon juice, and vanilla bean seeds in a 10 inch ovenproof pan, preferably nonstick (though I did an uncoated pan and didn’t have any sticking problems). Turn the heat to medium high and watch carefully as the mixture begins to turn light brown (this should take about 5 minutes). Swirl the pan to stir if needed, but don’t stir with a spoon. Cook the mixture for another minute or two until it become a deep amber color (be careful not to burn it). Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, 2 tbsp at a time.
Once the butter has been incorporated, start arranging the apple slices around in circles. Try to arrange them in a visually appealing way. Keep in mind that it will look like too many apples at first, but they cook down (as seen below):
Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and turn off the stove.
Lightly flour a work surface and roll the previously refrigerated dough out into a 10 inch circle (I actually like to do this between two pieces of wax or parchment paper because then it’s easy to plop onto the apples…just be sure to flour the paper just like you would any other work surface).
Place the chilled pastry crust on top of the apples, and tuck the pastry inside the frying pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the dough is golden brown.
Let the tart cool for 10 minutes, then place your serving platter on top of the pan, and invert. If the tart doesn’t seem to want to come out, let it cool for 5 more minutes and try again. Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from Anne Burrell’s Apple Tart Tatin.