The Secret to a Flawless Tarte Tatin

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tarte tatin

I have been baking at home and professionally for a few years now and until last week  I’d never made a Tarte Tatin.  Visions of molten hot sugar flying across my kitchen as I flipped over a 400 degree pan of caramelized apples was enough to keep me at bay.

And then I read a recipe that gave me courage.

James Peterson’s tome of pastry aptly titled Baking (a great resource for any baker) offers a tip – start the day before.  Bake the tart and allow it to cool completely in the pan.  Then refrigerate the pastry for up to 12 hours allowing the sugar to cool and the apples to congeal together.  Once it is thoroughly chilled, return the pan and it’s contents to the stove over medium high heat and gently, with splayed palms, rotate the tart to be sure that it doesn’t stick to the pan when you unmold it.  With a plate held taut over the pan, quickly (and calmly) invert the pan onto the plate and voila!

Find a recipe with instructions, after the jump…

Tarte Tatin

Adapted from James Peterson’s ‘Baking’

15 – 18 medium to large baking apples (I prefer pink lady apples for baking)

¾ cup butter

¾ cup sugar

1 recipe of your favorite pie dough or store bought puff pastry, cut into a round just larger than the circumference of your pan

peeling apples

Peel, slice and core the apples.  Then cut each half in half again creating quarters.

Combine butter and sugar in a 12 inch oven-safe saucepan.  Cook until the mixture begins to caramelize – about 5 minutes – stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture is a deep amber color and smells nutty start adding your apple quarters to the pan.  Work in a circle standing the apple wedges on their ends.  As you add more apples it will be easier to keep them upright.  If the butter/sugar mixture at any point is getting too dark during this stage just take it off the heat and continue adding apples.

cooking apples

*At this point I put my prepared round of pie dough in the freezer and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once you have added as many apples as will fit in the pan allow the mixture to cook over medium-high heat until the caramel is syrupy and comes only ½ inch up the apples.  For me this took about 30 minutes.  Keep in mind that as the apples cook they will shrink so you will need to continue adding apples to the pan to ensure it that there will be no gaps in the final tart.  To check and see if the apples are done, pick one up and see if the bottom is golden brown.  If it is, take the pan off the heat and place your very cold round of dough on top of the pan.  Use the heat of the pan to soften the dough so that you can tuck the edges around the apples and down the sides of the pan.

dough for tatin

Bake tart for roughly 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.

Allow the tart to cool completely in the pan.  Once cooled place the entire pan in the refrigerator for 3 to 12 hours.  A few hours before serving take the pan out of the refrigerator and place on the stove over medium high heat for about 40 seconds.  Shift the pan every 10 seconds to ensure it’s heated evenly.  With splayed palms try to rotate the pastry in the pan.  When you are able to complete a full rotation the tart is ready.  Take the pan off the heat and place a plate on top of the pan.  Gracefully invert the pan so that the tart falls onto the plate.

Allow the Tarte Tatin to come to room temperature before serving.  A sprinkling of powdered sugar makes for an even more beautiful presentation.

tarte tatin