Tarte Tatin Benoit
This recipe is from Patricia Wells’ ‘The Paris Cookbook’. (Harper Collins, 2001) It’s a recipe that you get better at making the more you do it. So eat lots of apples in season! I used Northern Spies for my tarte tatins, and they worked beautifully, but you could also use Golden Delicious, Jonagolds, Fujis, or Cox’s Orange Pippins. You need a well-seasoned 9-inch cast iron skillet to make this recipe a success.
- ¾ cup sugar
- 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3 pounds large apples, peeled, cored and halved lengthwise
- 1 package puff pastry, thawed
- Whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream to top
1.) Spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of the cast iron skillet. Place the butter slices evenly over the sugar, then drizzle with the vanilla. Beginning at the outside edge of the pan, stand the apple haves on end on top of the butter. They should all face in one direction, with the rounded edge against the edge of the pan and the cut side toward the centre. Pack the apples as close together as possible. Make a second circle of apple halves inside the first. Place one apple half in the centre of the circle to fill any remaining space.
2.) Place the skillet over low heat and cook the apples in the butter and sugar, uncovered, until the butter/sugar mixture turns a thick, golden brown and just begins to caramelize. This will take about an hour. The liquid should remain at a gentle bubble. Baste the apples from time to time to speed up their cooking and to make for evenly cooked fruit. If the pieces lose their places a bit while cooking, you can nudge them back into formation.
3.) Pre-heat the oven to 425F.
4.) Take the skillet off the heat and place on top of a cookie sheet. Roll out the thawed pastry to size on a lightly floured work surface, then drape it over top of the apples, gently pushing the edges of the pastry down around the edge of the pan and trimming any excess. Place in the oven and bake until the pastry is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Do not be concerned if the juices bubble over, this is normal.
5.) Remove the tart from the oven. Immediately invert a serving plate over the skillet and then quickly but carefully (using gloves, remember the skillet is hot!) invert the skillet and the plate together so the pastry ends up on the platter, with the apples on top. If any stick to the pan you can remove them and carefully place them back in the tart. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream or crème fraiche.