About a week ago, I went for my impulse and made a génoise instead of using up the apples in my fruit drawer, who were showing a few premature signs of aging. When making recipes, I generally poke my nose into my refrigerator and try to find what needs to be used most urgently. Now it was time to put those shiny red and yellow “pommes” to good use.
What would I use the apples to make? I proposed my other half some purple carrot and apple muffins, to which my proposition was countered with a facial contortion of unpleasant dimensions.
“Well then what do you want,” I asked?
“A Tarte Tatin!”
I have enjoyed many Tarte Tatin’s in French restaurants, but I had never made a Tarte Tatin myself. I was not sure if I was qualified to be delving into one of the most sacred of French recipes. If an apple pie is to America, then the tarte tatin is to France. This was no small feat. But I was up for the challenge; into the fruit drawer I dove, rescuing the apples from their continued neglect.
To make a Tarte Tatin, you need only three ingredients: butter, sugar, and apples. If you are into making your own crust (I went for the store bought variety this time, a “pate feuilletée;” I figured I had to pick my battles) then by all means feel free to make your own.
Peel and cut the apples in quarters.
The one who ordered this dessert was hovering over my shoulder.
“You should cut them smaller! They’ll never cook all the way through!”
“Oh yee of little faith,” I said.
“Oh yee quoi?”
Some things are just lost in translation. I opted for another answer.
“No way, I said, this is my Tarte Tatin and it is going to have big massive chunks of apples.” And I continued on with my peeling and slicing.
In the bottom of a pie plate (one that you can also put on your burner), melt the butter. Add the sugar, and cook over medium to high heat stirring constantly until the mixture makes a glorious dark brown caramel. It will be white for quite some time before it starts going to the dark side.
Remove from the heat and arrange the apples in a star formation in the pie plate, “gluing” them one by one into the caramel. Cover with a second layer of apples and then fill in the holes with smaller pieces of apple. Return the apples to the burner and cook an additional 10 minutes on medium to low heat. Obviously don’t do any stirring at this point!
Cover with the remaining sugar and cut the remaining butter into chunks and spread over the apples.
Lay the pie crust over the pie plate and trim off the excess so that the pie dough covers the tray perfectly.
Pop in the oven at 220C or 425F for 45 minutes. If the pie crust looks like it is on the verge of burning, lower the heat slightly. I have a confession. My pie crust didn’t cook all the way through. I believe this is because I only cooked it for 30 minutes. This is why I bumped the cooking time up to 45 minutes. Yours should be cooked all the way through by then. And in case you are wondering, the apples were 100% cooked even with only 30 minutes and so my future Tarte Tatins will always have big massive apple chunks.
Now I know you’ve been cooking a while and you’re ready to see how it turned out, but now you will have to be patient. Let your pie rest at least 4 hours and until it is completely at room temperature. This will allow the pectin from the apples to gel with the sugar and glue the whole pie together. When it comes out of the oven it will look like there is a ton of juice and you’ll probably think, oh crap, I screwed up. But have faith. The whole pie will sink down into the mold and everything will gel like jelly in due time.
When you think the moment has come, gently detach the sides of the pie with a spatula before placing a tray on top of the pie and flipping over. My metal tray was a relic left from the previous owner of our countryside house… Thank you “Madame G” for the very useful tray!
If you decide to make a Tarte Tatin, I would love to see how yours came out! Tweet the image of your pie and include @fullfatdiet in your post. Aux fours! (To your ovens!)