Tarte Tatin – Julia and Emeril Together!

Tarte Tatin is an exercise in forcing as much butter as possible into the dessert while balancing a perfect pastry crust, the apple flavor and the caramelization.  This recipe has over a pound of butter in it!  When I looked at recipes for Tarte Tatin, I decided that Julie Child’s formula for the apples looked just right, but I wanted to use Emeril’s crust (the extensive layering and folding is great).  The combination was perfect, so here are Julia’s apples and Emeril’s puff pastry:

For the Tart Tatin (classic recipe from Julia plus 50%, because I used a 12” pan):

  • 9 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved
  • 1 ½  lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 ¼  cups sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

Your pastry should be ready to roll out (see multi-hour prep below) before you start the apples.  Slice the halved apples into 4 lengthwise wedges each, and toss in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest and ¾  cup sugar. Drain the apples after macerating 20 minutes.

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over high heat. Stir in the remaining sugar and cook until the syrup bubbles and caramelizes, and turns a brown color. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange a layer of apple slices in a neat pattern on the caramel in the skillet, then arrange the remaining apples neatly on top.

Return the pan to moderately high heat and cook for about 25 minutes, covering the pan after 10 minutes. Every few minutes press down on the apples and baste them with the exuded juices. When the juices are thick and syrupy, remove the pan from the heat.

Homemade Puff Pastry (per Emeril):

3  cups all-purpose flour, about 14 ounces

¾  cup cake flour, about 3 ounces

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 sticks (1 lb) chilled unsalted butter

1 cup ice water, plus more as needed

Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Dice 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the chilled butter, returning the remaining butter to the refrigerator to keep cold. Place the diced butter into the mixing bowl and using your fingers or a pastry blender, blend until the mixture forms a coarse meal, similar to a piecrust. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the water. Use a rubber spatula to gradually blend the water with the flour mixture, mixing just until a rough, sticky dough is formed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place the remaining butter on a work surface, (a marble surface is ideal). Using a rolling pin or the heal of your hand, smash the butter into the surface until pliable, taking care not to over work the butter as it should stay chilled. Work butter into a 6-inch square.

Remove the rested dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough into a 12-14-inch circle, being careful not to pull or tear the dough. (The dough mixture may still be very rough and tacky.) Place the butter square into the center of the circle and fold the edges of the dough over the butter, pressing to seal the edges. You should now have a square of butter wrapped in dough.

Using a rolling pin, roll the square into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle. (The dough may need to be pounded with the rolling pin several times to allow the butter to become more pliable.) Be careful not to tear the dough. Fold the rectangle 3 times as you would fold a business letter. Place the rectangle in front of you lengthwise and roll into another 16 by 8-inch rectangle. Fold again 3 times as you would a business letter and make 2 small indentations into the dough to remind yourself that it has been rolled twice. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Return the rested dough to a lightly floured surface and repeat the process of rolling the dough into a rectangle, making 3 business-letter folds, 2 times. Make 4 small indentations into the dough to remind yourself that it has been rolled a total of 4 times. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If desired, dough can rest refrigerated for up to 2 days at this point.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a 16 by 8-inch rectangle and fold 3 times, similar to a business letter. Repeat process and make 6 small indentations into the dough. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Now the pastry is ready to be rolled and used in the desired puff pastry recipe.

Oven should be preheated to 400.

Roll out dough to a 13” circle, and transfer to top of cast iron pan, carefully placing it over the apples.  Lightly tuck the dough around the outer edges of the apples, carefully folding or pushing the overhang down tightly around the apples. Cut several slits in the dough to allow steam to escape while baking.

Bake until the tart crust is golden, about 20 minutes. Remove tart from the oven, put on a cooling rack, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen tart, then place a large plate or platter over the skillet. Using oven mitts, CAREFULLY grasp platter and skillet and invert, letting tart settle onto the platter and giving skillet a quick tap if necessary. Carefully lift off the skillet and place any apples remaining in skillet on top of the tart. Cool slightly and serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. [You will never want apple pie again, if you serve this instead!]


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