Sunday 09 January 2011
1 cup flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
125g/4oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/8 cup iced water
For the tart
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter
First make the dough. Put half the flour and salt in a mixer. On a low speed, add the butter, increasing the speed to blend the ingredients, then reducing it once more to add the remainder of the flour. Add the water and combine until you have a firm dough. Remove from mixer, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour.
When ready to use, roll the dough into a circle which is a quarter-of-an-inch thick and slightly larger than the pan you are using; a traditional tarte Tatin is about nine inches round and two inches deep. Next, fold the dough in half and then half again to form a triangle, then place in the fridge until you are ready to use.
In the meantime, peel the apples, cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Sprinkle the sugar evenly across the bottom of the pan, cut the butter into pieces and place on top of the sugar.
Arrange the apple halves in the pan so that each half is facing the same way and standing, leaning up against the edge. Cut one or two of the apple halves in half again and stand in the centre of the pan. Any leftover apple should be kept to fill in the gaps which appear when cooking. Place the pan over a medium heat so that the sugar melts and combines with the butter. As the apples cook, their juices will bubble up around them – rotate the apples where they stand or shake the pan from time to time to prevent them from sticking.
When the apples have cooked down enough to create room in the pan, gently move them apart and fit in the remaining apple halves. It can take up to one hour for the caramel to reduce – be very careful not to burn it. When the caramel is a rich deep amber/brown colour, remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unfold it and drape over the apples. Trim the edges so that it only just leaks over edges of pan. Tuck the dough around the apples and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40 minutes or until the dough is golden-brown. Once ready, remove from the oven and let it sit for 30 minutes so the apples absorb more of the hot caramel – though no longer, as the caramel may stick to the pan, causing the apples to fall apart when the tart is removed from the pan.
Place a plate on top of the pan and turn over to remove the tart. It is best served once it has rested for a couple of hours, with a generous dollop of crème fraîche.
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