Tarte Tatin

This is little more than an upside-down pie. True to French country cuisine, it’s utilitarian and uses only inexpensive ingredients. It’s simple to make, but it does take some attention while the apples cook. You simply layer sliced apples on top of sugar and butter and cook on the stovetop until the apples and sugar begin to caramelize. When you see the juices and sugars beginning to brown, that’s when it’s time to cover it with All-Purpose 3-2-1 Dough and get it in the oven. You can do this in a cast-iron or stainless steel skillet, but the apples can stick, so I prefer an oven-safe nonstick pan for this.

My favorite apple for baking is the Braeburn, but Granny Smiths or any other tart, crisp variety will work. For an appealing presentation, restaurant kitchens will carefully fan the bottom layer of apples (which will become the top when it’s turned out) in a circular pattern, but it’s fine to add your apples haphazardly if you wish. Serve it with ice cream or a dollop of crème fraîche.

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Ingredients

For the apples

  • ½ cup/90 grams sugar
  • 4 tablespoons/60 grams unsalted butter, cut into 5 or 6 pieces
  • 6 large apples (about 3 pounds/1.5 kilograms), peeled, cored, and cut into thick slices
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

For the crust

  • 1 cup/150 grams all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons/90 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cut into large dice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Method

Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C.

Prepare the apples: Put the sugar in an 8- to 10-inch/20- to 25-centimeter oven-safe nonstick skillet and shake the sugar into an even layer. Scatter the butter pieces on top. Then layer your apples on the butter and sugar and put the pan over medium heat. Once the apples start dropping their juices and the sugar dissolves, lower the heat to medium-low and cook the apples, undisturbed, till they’re very soft, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the cinnamon on midway through cooking, if using. Press down on the apples occasionally and rotate the pan on the burner to make sure they’re cooking evenly.

Meanwhile, make the crust: Combine the flour, a pinch of salt, and the butter for the crust. Pinch the butter until it’s in little chunks and bits. Add just enough ice water to bring it all together. Shape it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it till you’re ready to roll it out.

When the juices have begun to brown and the apples are very soft, roll out the dough. Cut a circle about 10 inches/25 centimeters in diameter. Place it over the apples and tuck in the edges all around. Bake on the middle rack until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Let the tart rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then put a plate over the pan and carefully invert the tart onto the plate. Remove the pan and serve.