I’ve been wanting to try making a French upside-down apple tart for a while now and this Sunday I did it. For me the toughest part about following English translations of French recipes is that they seem to leave out half of the recipe, presumably because they assume that the person following the recipe will obviously know how to fill in the missing parts. I imagine that’s fine if you’re a French pastry chef, but not so good if you’re an American app developer. So I did some research and filled in the missing parts.
One of the elements left out was what kind of crust to use. It turns out there are a few recipes for tarte crusts, but the one you need for tarte tatin is pate brisée because it’s sturdier and can handle eight steaming, baked apples covered in an incredible butter caramel sauce on top of it. When you first start to knead the crust, it’s a disastrous mess, but stick with it and in a few minutes it actually looks like dough. I did need to add a little water to mine.
Pate Brisée (Flaky short-crust tart pastry)
- 2c all-purpose flour
- 1/2c butter
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- While the butter is still cold, chop it into small cubes and set it aside.
- On a large flat work surface, sift the flour if you need to, make a hollow in the middle and add the egg, cream and the softened butter.
- Knead the mixture together, pushing down hard with the palm of your hand to completely incorporate the flour. Add a little water if necessary.
Tarte Tatin (Upside down apple tart)
- 1 Pate brisée
- 8 golden delicious apples (Reine des reinettes)
- 3 tblsp butter
- 1/2c superfine or caster sugar plus a little more for sprinkling
- Quarter the apples and remove the core and peel. Then slice them into 1/4 inch slices and set aside.
- In a flame-proof pie dish, melt the stick of butter, add the sugar evenly over the surface of the bottom of the dish and caramelize on top of the stove over medium heat. When the sugar starts to brown, keep your eye on it because it will start getting too brown fast. When the butter and sugar are a golden brown, remove from heat immediately.
- Choose the best looking slices and place them side by side in the dish in a pinwheel pattern working your way to the center. This will be what people see as the top of the tarte.
- Arrange the rest of the apple slices in the pie dish, packing them together tightly. Dust with sugar.
- Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 20 minutes. Roll out the pate brisée to make a pie lid and place it over the apples. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
- Unmold while still hot by placing the serving dish on top of the pie dish and then gripping both plates and flipping them over so that the pie dish is upside-down. Tap the bottom of the pie plate and carefully lift the pie plate off of the tarte. The sooner you do this after it comes out of the oven, the better. Let the tart set up a few minutes.
- Optional, but awesome: When the tarte has cooled a bit, sprinkle more of the caster sugar over the top and use a culinary torch to caramelize the sugar.