Tarte Tatin

This distinctive tart comes to us from Jessica Battilana, whose book "Repertoire" is filled with go-to recipes for everyday living. The key to this recipe is to cook the caramel until it's deep brown before adding the apples — the juices keep the sugar from burning. The apples turn a rich mahogany color and infuse the caramel with their flavor.
Prep
40 mins
Bake
25 to 30 mins
Total
1 hr 5 mins
Yield
one 11" tart
Tarte Tatin

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are roughly the size of peas. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing just until the dough comes together. Note: If you don't have a food processor, make the dough by hand, or using a stand mixer.
  2. Pat the dough into a disk; wrap and chill it while you prepare the apples.
  3. To make the filling: Peel, core, and halve the apples.
  4. Melt the butter over medium heat in an 11" ovenproof or 10" cast-iron skillet that's at least 2 1/2" deep. Add the sugar and cook without stirring until the mixture begins to brown at the edges. Stir gently and cook until the caramel is a deep golden brown, about 6 minutes. This takes some courage; you want the caramel to be very dark but not scorched.
  5. As the caramel approaches the correct color, reduce the heat to low and arrange the apple halves vertically in concentric circles from the outside of the pan toward the center. Pack the apples as tightly as possible, cutting some in wedges to fill in the gaps as needed (they'll shrink as they cook).
  6. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the apples begin to release their juices, about 6 minutes (you'll see the level of caramel rise to almost halfway up the apples).
  7. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the apples are tender but not mushy, the undersides are deeply caramelized, and the juices are sticky and thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes more.
  8. Using two spoons, invert the apples so the upper half is nestled in the caramel. Continue cooking until the second side is caramelized, almost all the juice has evaporated, and what remains in the pan is syrupy, about 10 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  10. Roll the dough on a floured surface to a 12" circle, trimming the edges as needed. Set the pastry on top of the apples, tucking the edges down into the pan. Cut some vent holes in the pastry.
  11. Bake the tart for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a large rimmed plate. Leave the pan on the tart for 2 to 3 minutes to let the caramel drain, then remove the pan.
  12. Serve warm with crème fraîche.
  13. Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Choose a firm-tart apple like Pink Lady or Braeburn for this recipe; avoid Granny Smiths, as they tend to soften too quickly.