Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2011 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variation: Pear La Tarte Tatin
This recipe doesn't really taste like a traditional apple pie, because there are no spices added, so the apple and caramel flavors can really shine. There are so many recipe renditions of this famous recipe, but we have provided our own that we know works and that we know you'll have great success with. We also show you our quick and easy way to core and slice apples.
PIE RECIPE HELP
Using the right apple is essential here. I like to use Golden Delicious. But, other varieties can include: Granny Smith, Baldwin, Northern Spy, Newtown Pippin, Rhode Island Greening, Rome Beauty, or York Imperial.
whipped cream, sour cream, or vanilla ice cream
Special Equipment Suggested: A heavy ovenproof frying pan, such as cast-iron, 9 by 2 inches with fairly straight sides, or heavy no-stick aluminum; a bulb baster, a cover for the pan; a large enough flat-bottomed serving dish
STEP I: MAKE THE PASTRY DOUGH
PASTRY DOUGH - Flaky Pie Crust or Pate Brisee Tutorial / Recipe alone
Makes one 8- or 9-inch pastry pie crust
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra needed for rolling pie crust (spoon into dry measuring cup and level to top)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons) COLD unsalted butter, cut into evenly-sized 1/4-inch cubes. Return the fat to the freezer to chill again while preparing the other ingredients; can use salted butter. If you do, reduce the salt by 1/4 tsp.
1/4 cup COLD vegetable shortening (or 1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons unsalted butter); cut or shape shortening into evenly-sized 1/4-inch cubes or pieces. Return the fat to the refrigerator to chill again while preparing the other ingredients.
1/4 cup COLD water; to prepare, make ice water. Let it sit until very cold and then measure.
MIX BY HAND
1.Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the prepared butter and shortening to the flour mixture by sprinkling the pieces evenly around the bowl. Toss to mix.
3. Using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips, cut or rub the butter and shortening into the flour. Occasionally, make sure you reach down into the bottom of the bowl and toss the ingredients to make sure all of the fat is combined with the flour mixture. Continue until the fat is broken into pieces the size of small peas among smaller particles.
SARAH SAYS: When mixing by hand, make sure you use your FINGERTIPS, not your hands, to cut the fat into the flour mixture. Your fingertips are the coldest part of your hands. Rub the very quickly between your fingers. Pick it up, rub it, and drop it until it’s mixed. If the fat in the pastry dough gets too warm and soft, cover entire mixture with plastic wrap and place in freezer for a few minutes until chilled.
2. Sprinkle half of the water over the mixture.
3. Toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture.
Add the remaining water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time.
SARAH SAYS: The amount of water necessary to bring a dough together can vary up to 50 percent depending upon how dry the flour is. If more water is needed, sprinkle one teaspoon at a time for a one-crust dough and one tablespoon at a time for a two-crust dough, gently tossing the ingredients together after each addition. If more flour is needed, do the same. DO NOT OVERMIX.
4. Continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. If necessary, add water 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time until the pastry can be packed. Continue pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. The pastry should start packing together.
5. When the pastry does, gather it in your hands. Do NOT pack it together tightly, though.
OPTIONAL: For extra flakiness, give the dough what are called two folds and a turn. This gives it extra flakiness. Quickly flatten the dough; Fold it in half over onto itself, and turn it a quarter turn and fold the other edge onto itself. Proceed to the next step.
6. Form the pastry dough into a disk shape. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours before rolling. This step is not optional.
STEP II: PREPARE THE APPLES
5 to 6 apples, Golden Delicious
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon; grated rind and juice
1. Quarter and core the apples, cut the quarters in half lengthwise.
We use a melon baller to core the apples with.
Slice the apples with a paring knife.
2. Toss the prepared apples in a bowl with the sugar, lemon rind and juice.
3. Let sit 20 minutes so the apples will exude their juices. Drain them.
STEP III: PREPARE THE CARAMEL
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1. Set the frying pan over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining sugar.
2. Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown--it will smooth out later, when the apple juices dissolve the sugar.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design. Arrange the apples first around the outside and then in the middle.
Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close packed and only reasonably neat.
4. Add enough so they heap up 1-inch higher than the rim of the pan--they sink down as they cook.
5. Set the pan over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with the bulb baster--basting gives the whole apple mass a deliciously buttery caramel flavor.
6. In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy.
7. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough.
STEP IV: PREPARE AND BAKE THE LA TARTE TATIN
1. Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Roll the chilled dough into circle 1/8-inch thick and 1-inch larger than the top of your pan.
NOTE: I measured the top of my pan, and determined that it was slightly larger than a dinner plate, so I used one as a guide, and cut around it with a pizza cutter.
3. With a sharp knife, cut four steam holes, 1/4 inch size, 1 1/2 inches from around the center of the dough.
4. Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters, center the point over the apples. Unnfold the dough over the apples.
5. Then, with the side of a large icing spatula, press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry has browned and crisped.
7. Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven.
SARAH SAYS: To check if done baking, tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, place the baked La Tarte Tatin in its pan on the stovetop.
Turn the heat to medium and boil the juices down rapidly until they become a thick syrup, but do NOT evaporate them completely or the baked La Tarte Tatin will stick to its
pan and not unmold properly.
8. While still hot, unmold immediately.
UNMOLD AND SERVE
KELLY CA SAYS: OK, I have to warn you...this is a very dangerous action! Use extreme caution when you are flipping the pan over, because, if you are using a cast iron pan, the pan is very heavy, and very hot!
1. Using pot holders, place a RIMMED serving platter upside-down over the hot La Tarte Tatin; the rimmed platter will capture juices from the apples once unmolded. Make sure it is also larger than the pan.
2. Holding onto the handle of the pot, and placing your other hand on the bottom of the serving platter, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the La Tarte Tatin.
SARAH SAYS: If the baked La Tarte Tatin sticks to its pan and will not unmold readily, it could be too cool; heat it on the stovetop under low heat until hot, again.
Or, if you boiled away too many of its juices, let the tart cool. Loosen its sides. Freeze it in its pan. Then, set the frozen pan in a bowl of warm water to loosen the tart and then, unmold.
Cover, and let thaw in the refrigerator and serve cold, at room temperature or warm in a 300 degrees F oven, covered in foil.
3. If not quite neat in design, which does happen, rearrange slices as necessary. Clean up any caramel drips on the edge of your platter with a damp paper towel.
4. Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional cream or ice cream.
Pear La Tarte Tatin: Substitute firm ripe unblemished pears for the apples, such as – Bartletts, Comice, or Bosc.