This classic dessert was first created in 1898, apparently by accident, at the Hotel Tatin in France. It is a favourite of my father’s and I like to make it for him for his birthday. I use Granny Smith apples which tend to hold their shape well when cooked. Most recipes suggest slicing or quartering the apples, but halving them makes more of an apple statement, in my opinion. You can caramelize the apples well ahead of time, even the day before, cool, then top with pastry and refrigerate. Bake and invert the tarte just hours before serving. Makes 8-10 servings
Sprinkle a 10″ non-stick pan with the sugar and arrange the butter evenly over top. Peel, core and halve apples and line them up against each other in the pan, like this:
Turn heat to medium-high and cook until the apples are about 3/4 cooked and the butter and sugar has caramelized to a golden brown, turning and readjusting the apples so that they cook evenly. Remove from the heat and cool.
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 T. sugar
3/4 c. butter, cubed
3-4 T. ice water
Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor and combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture looks like very coarse breadcrumbs. (Alternatively, combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and cut in butter with a pastry blender.) Add ice-water slowly, stirring the mixture just until it starts to come together into a ball. Knead a few times, wrap in plastic and refrigerate dough for one hour. Roll out dough to fit the size of the pan, crimp the edges and cut air vents on the top. Brush dough with milk, and sprinkle with 2 T. sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until the pastry is well browned. Remove to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then invert onto serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature, with creme fraiche, whipped cream or ice cream, as desired.