Saturday, October 10, 2009

tarte tatin

Tarte de Demoiselles Tatin

The basic ingredients in this recipe blend together to produce a dessert which is luxuriously rustic. Somehow, this tarte helps us to bring closure to summer and move into the allure of autumn.
It's something about the apples. After hanging on the tree all summer, basking in the sunshine and growing in size, flavor and sweetness, they are placed in a bath of caramel and baked down to the consistency of pudding. A lid of pastry holds in all of the flavor and juices. It's the essence of summer, served up in a pan!
The results from the oven are most gratifying and nearly guaranteed, in our many years of baking this autumn favorite, we have never been disappointed. We like to keep it simple by using a store bought puff pastry dough. A dollop of thick, tart creme fraiche is a perfect contrast to the richness of the baked apples.

We first tried this less-sweet tart in the charming port town of Honfleur on the coast of Normandy, France. One taste of the tender, mahogany colored apples, tart cream, and toothsome crust, and we knew we needed to make this an annual habit.

The Norman region of France is home to apples (and therefore Calavados), rich cream, flavorful cheeses, caramels, salty air and splendid seafood. For a nice view of Honfleur in the blog French Essence click here.

The tarte is named for a pair of sisters who began making it for visitors and boarders to support themselves when their father passed. They lived in Lamotte-Beuvron, a small town in Normandy. Fortunately, visitors happily offered up a few francs to taste this delight over the years.

The Hotel Tatin still stands, just across from the train station, and people still come to enjoy this tarte, baked in a wood-fired oven.

serves 8
5 pounds firm apples (granny smith's work very well)
1/2 cup salted butter
1 - 1/2 cup sugar
one sheet store bought frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup calvados
1 more tablespoon of sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a rack in the center of the oven.
Peel the apples. Using a melon baller and a paring knife remove the core of the apples. Trim the ends of the apples so they are flat.

In a 9 - 10 inch oven safe pan with straight sides, melt the butter.

When the butter is melted, add the sugar and stir it until all is melted and a deep golden brown. The caramel should be smooth and consistent in color.

Remove the caramel from the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

On a floured surface roll out the puff pastry dough until it is very thin and larger than the pan. Using the lid of the pan for a guide, cut the pastry into a circle which will fit over the pan.

When the caramel has firmed up just a bit, arrange the apples in the pan in concentric circles, standing on end in the caramel.

Cut a small circle out of the center of the dough (about the size of a dime) and rest it on top of the apples. Any excess dough can be tucked in between the apples and the side of the pan.

Place the pan on a baking sheet and into the the oven on the center rack. Allow tarte to bake for about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Remove pan from oven and place it on a burner over high heat for about 5 minutes to cook off some of the excess moisture (it will still look a little saucy).

Place a platter that is slightly larger than the pan and the tart over the lip of the pan. Invert the pan over the platter to release the tarte.

Pour the Calvados and tablespoon of sugar into the pan and heat it over medium heat, scraping up any bits of apple left in the pan. Spoon the heated Calvados over the tarte and allow the tarte to cool for about 45 minutes.

When cooled, cut it into wedges and serve it with dollops of creme fraiche.

Merci, Demoiselles Tatin!

For a printable version of this recipe click on the foodista stamp below.
Tarte Tatin Splendid on Foodista

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