This French dessert recipe is a classic for a reason. There is just no beating the combination of soft warm apples, caramel and buttery crust.
There we are again, ready for my monthly French baking recipe. If you have been following me regularly over the past 10 months, you might have seen a few French classics already, among which to mention just a few you will find the Chocolate Eclairs (made easy for you), the Brioche à Tête, the Cannelés de Bordeaux, the pains aux raisins, or the Meringue Lemon Pie (prepared the French way, with a subtle meringue). I still have a few more recipes to surprise you with before the end of the year, so keep an eye open!
As for now, let’s talk about a great French classic everybody knows for trying it at the restaurant most of the time: the Classic Apple Tarte Tatin. I have to be honest with you though, and admit I almost did not bake this exact recipe and was about to prepare another French apple tart we all love: la tarte Normande, made with a lot of cream. The reason why I wanted to prepare the other one is obvious: this classic apple tart is easy to prepare and do not have this technical part of inverting the tart for serving. I cook and bake many times a week, and still I happen to be lazy and/or afraid of failure when the time is missing for too many trials before publishing the recipe.
And yes, this time the time was missing as I was busy cooking, baking, shooting, writing, editing photos of many recipes in advance as I am heading to vacations in a dream destination in a couple of days. Wanna guess where I’m heading too? I can give you a few hints: it’s warm, sunny, exotic, far away, yet still in the US. Make sure you follow me on Insta in order to find out within a few days! That being said, I won’t let you down and the blog will still be active with new awesome seasonal recipes several times a week.
Coming back to the dilemma Tarte Tatin / Tarte Normande. As I was saying, I almost baked the Tarte Normande (which is really good, I should share it some other day) instead of the Tarte Tatin. Then I sat a minute and thought about all the French recipes I baked so far for my 2018 French baking challenge and clearly, you had to have the great classic of the French Tarte Tatin among them. So I took a deep breathe and hoped for good results.
The key is to have the right tools, meaning an oven-proof cast iron skillet or a metal baking pan that is resistant to the heat as you will place it on the gas for quite some time before baking in the oven. I have a cast-iron skillet and it is by far one of my most used kitchen tools, along with my round cocotte. In your skillet, you will first prepare the caramel by melting sugar. Then add the butter, and when this one is foaming, pour the calvados (if you don’t have any, just skip this last step).
After this, you will want to make a lovely pattern with your apples, keeping in mind that you will be inverting the tart at some point. Let cook for about 10 minutes, until the caramel underneath is browning ans starts bubbling. Good news: you are halfway done already. Cover with the dough (I prepared my own one but you could go for a ready-to-use puff pastry for a quicker version). Make a few slits in the dough to prevent from inflating while baking, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Then comes the tricky part. First, remove the tart from the oven and leave it to stand for about 5 minutes, allowing it to cool a little. Do not wait too long or the caramel will become hard and your tart impossible to invert. At this point, place a slightly larger serving plate over the skillet and, using oven gloves, carefully invert the Tarte Tatin. If it lost a little bit of its shape while inverting, gently re-shape with your hands while still warm and malleable.
Serve lukewarm, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, and voilà!
- 3.5 ounces (100g) unsalted butter, diced
- 1⅔ cups (200g) all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 5 Tablespoons cold water
- 6 dessert apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
- ½ lemon, juice
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- ⅓ cup (75g) unsalted butter, diced
- 3 Tablespoons calvados (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together all-purpose flour and salt. Add the diced butter and press with your finger tips until you get a crumbly texture. Sprinkle sugar over and stir well. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, just enough to shape into a a smooth ball. Flatten lightly with your hand, wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°C (180°C) and grease a heavy cast-iron skillet. Set aside.
- Peel, core and cut the apples into quarters. Place in a shallow dish and press the lemon juice all over to prevent the apples from browning.
- Meanwhile, pour the sugar to the bottom of the skillet and let gently dissolve over a medium to low heat. Do not stir the pan but just shake the pan until dissolved. Heat until it becomes golden brown. When the caramel is ready, add the butter and cook a few of more minutes. Add the calvados when it starts foaming and cook for 2 minutes.
- Arrange the apple quarters so they make a pretty pattern, remembering you will be inverting the tart, and cook for 10 minutes over a low heat.
- Meanwhile, roll out the dough in a large disk, about 10-inch (25 cm) in diameter, and carefully top apples with the dough, tucking the edges in using two spoons. Prick with a small sharp knife. Put straight in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes until the pastry is golden.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before placing a plate, slightly larger than the pan, on top of the pastry and very carefully, preferable using oven gloves, invert the tart onto the plate. Serve lukewarm, with a side of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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