I am a sucker for fresh produce. My checkbook trembles in fear when I go to a farmers market; there is always something that looks so good that I have to buy it. What happens when I go to an apple orchard? Especially a you-pick apple orchard? I wind up with a lot of apples.
*A LOT of apples.
What do I do with all those apples? Here is a quick, easy tarte tatin recipe that I learned while I was on my trip to Provence.* Tarte tatin, an upside down apple pie, is a great example of simple French cooking. Butter, sugar, apples, lemon juice and puff pastry - that's it, and the results are better than any apple pie I've ever made.
*Did I mention that I spent a week in a cooking class in Provence? Yes? Well, it still makes me happy just thinking about it.
Now, I'm not a dessert kind of guy. Don't get me wrong, I like dessert. I won't turn it down if it is offered. But, in the end, I'd rather eat more of the main course and pass on dessert.
*Diane, my loving wife, is exactly the opposite. She's the baker in our household, and has quite a sweet tooth. When I need a dessert, I ask her to do it.
That's why this is the first dessert published on DadCooksDinner - I don't make dessert that often. But I'll admit, when I'm entertaining, I like to have something sweet as the final course for my guests. When Diane isn't making dessert, I turn to this five ingredient recipe.*
*OK, there are six ingredients if you count a tub of good vanilla ice cream. And, really, if you're going to make an apple tart, you don't want to forget the ice cream.
The key is the puff pastry; it makes this recipe almost laughably easy. Thaw the puff pastry, and it is ready to top the caramelized sugar and apples. No fussing with a dough, no rolling, no resting; just a quick slash with a knife, and fifteen minutes in the oven to brown.
Recipe: Tarte Tatin with Puff Pastry
Adapted From: Patrick Payet, Famous Provence
- 10 inch nonstick skillet with oven-safe handle
- 4 large apples (or 6 medium)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 6 tablespoon butter (¾ of a stick)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1. Thaw the puff pastry: 45 minutes before cooking, remove the puff pastry from the freezer and leave it on the counter to thaw, covered with a sheet of plastic wrap. (Or, thaw for 4 hours in the refrigerator...see here for puff pastry details). Once the puff pastry is thawed, unfold it and re-cover it with the plastic wrap.
2. Prepare the apples: Turn the oven to 450*F. Peel the apples, cut into quarters, and trim the cores and stems. Put the apple quarters in a medium bowl, pour the lemon juice on top, and toss until evenly coated.
3. Caramelize the sugar and cook the apples: Melt the butter in the nonstick fry pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir often. The sugar will look very dry; that is normal. Keep stirring until the sugar turns from sandy brown to golden brown. This will take about 5 minutes, but go by the color, and keep stirring, because the sugar goes from sandy brown to golden brown very quickly. Once the sugar is browned, add the apples in a spiral pattern, cut side down. Cover the fry pan with a lid and cook for 6 minutes, or until the apples are browned on the underside and getting soft.
4. Add the puff pastry and bake: Turn the heat off under the fry pan, remove the lid, and drape the puff pastry over the top of the pan. Tuck any overhanging puff pastry in around the edges (carefully - the sugar is hot and sticky!). Slash the puff pastry with a very sharp knife. Move the fry pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is puffy and browned.
5. Serve: Remove the fry pan from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the tarte. Then, gather your nerve, and invert the tarte onto a serving platter. I do this by holding the serving platter against the top of the fry pan, then flipping them over together in one smooth, quick motion.* Lift the pan off the tart, and let the tart rest for ten more minutes. Slice and serve.
*When flipping the tart, remember: he who hesitates is lost.
*Big Tart: Use six to eight apples, a stick of butter, and a cup of sugar in a 12 inch nonstick pan. Roll the puff pastry out a little to stretch it to fit over the larger pan.
*Apple Pie: For an American flavor profile, stir ½ teaspoon cinnamon into the browned sugar right before you add the apples.
*I used a mix of granny smith and fuji apples, because that's what I had on hand. Any "good for baking" apple will work in this recipe; a mix of sweet apples (golden delicious, fuji) and tart apples (granny smith, macoun) seems to work best for me, but I usually just use what I have on hand. The only apple I avoid is red delicious, because it tends to be a bit mealy.
*I just plop the puff pastry down on top and tuck in the ends because it is quick and easy. If you would rather be neat, trim the corners of the puff pastry to make a circle before putting it on the apples in the pan.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Patrick Payet, Famous Provence
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