I love Tarte Tatin, and have previously written a blog about Tarte Tatin making that with Julia Child’s caramelized apples, and Emeril’s pastry crust. This year, because my wife is eating gluten free, I thought, why not make this into a cake, but with the caramelized apples that would typically top a Tarte Tatin. It worked!
My guests had 4 desserts before them, and most said the apple cake was the best, gluten or not.
The caramelized apples are the way Julia Child would make them for Tarte Tatin. This year I used Honey Crisp Apples, but you can use Golden Delicious, or whatever you would normally choose for a pie or any cooked apple dessert.
9 Large Honey Crisp Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 16 slices (Quarter it, then slice each quarter 4 more times)
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 cup unsalted butter)
2 cups sugar, divided
Peel, core, slice apples and toss in juice of 1 lemon. Then sprinkle on 1 cup sugar. Set aside in bowl.
Melt butter in 12” cast iron pan on medium-high heat, then add remaining 1 cup sugar and WATCH IT, stirring almost constantly, until sugar caramelizes. Don’t let it burn. You are looking for a velvety smooth medium brown texture. When it reaches this state, take it off the heat. Drain the apples in a colander, then arrange the apple slices in a pattern in the caramel. Be careful, the pan stays very hot. I use a pinwheel design, starting at the outer edge, then creating 2 rows. Pile any extra apple slices on top, and make it level. Put pan back on low heat and let apples simmer in the caramel about 10 minutes. Press down lightly on apples to ensure that all get some caramel on them.
Meanwhile make the cake. Preheat oven to 350.
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups gluten free flour (I used a mix that has tapioca, rice flour, potato starch, found at Whole Foods)
1 cup almond flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
Sift together dry ingredients: GF flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Soften the butter. Cream butter and sugars with mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, with mixer on. Add oil. Add vanilla. Alternate adding flour mixture and cream, scraping down bowl regularly, and finishing with flour.
After the apples have cooked in the caramel about 10 minutes, take them off the heat, and sprinkle lemon zest over apples. Sprinkle 1 tsp cinnamon over apples. Put batter over apples. It will barely cover, so deposit it all around, then very gently smooth over with spatula.
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, until cake tester comes out almost dry (this is a moist cake, and it is also absorbing liquids from the apples). When done, place pan on cooling rack (ideally in front of a window) for 5-6 minutes. Run a knife around outside edge. Invert cake plate over pan and hold firmly, turning the pan upside down. Tap if needed for cake to land on plate. If some of your apples stayed in pan, don’t worry, just use a fork to gently lift them out and replace them in the pattern on what is now the top of the cake. Let cool at room temperature until ready to serve. Can be refrigerated or frozen.
Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Julia Child would have turned 100 this August, and there are many organizations doing many terrific things to celebrate her life and work.
You can buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking as an e-book or in print.
Most especially, you can cook your way through Julia’s best recipes. Not all 3700. Not even all of them from Julie and Julia, but just pick some of your favorites. Many cooks and chefs are publishing “simplified recipes” that make it much easier to replicate Julia’s art, like this one for Coq au Vin.
Lastly, if you are really a fan, see if there are things going on in your community. Pasadena, Julia’s birthplace, will be celebrating with birthday parties this August.