I Love Desserts

Apple-Caramel Upside-Down Pie
(Tarte Tatin)

Makes one 9 or 10-inch single-crust pie

Like a classic French Tarte Tatin, this pie is made in a heavy sauté pan and is built as follows: a base of flavorful caramel sauce, apple slices layered in methodically, sealed over with a layer of pastry crust. In the oven, the apples drink in the sauce and caramelize as they bake. Invert this pie and you'll find that the apples have turned a hue of glazed gold in their flowerlike spiral. The apples you use should be sturdy, flavorful, tart, and medium to firm, like a Winesap. Bosc pears or quince could also be added to the apples as a variation. Juicy fruits won't hold up and will get too saucy to work in this context.

Pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie, chilled, such as Bubby's All Butter Pastry Pie Dough, Basic Butter and Shortening Pastry Pie Dough (page 27 of the book), or Sour Cream Pastry Pie Dough (page 29)



To Make The Caramel: Pour the water into a heavy saucepan, add the sugar, and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Don't stir, but give the pan a little shake if the sugar is above the waterline. Place the pan over high heat. When the sugar and water get hot and bubbly and the sugar liquefies, turn the heat down to medium-high. Give the pan a gentle shake to keep the syrup moving and to prevent uneven browning—watch out for darker color around the edges or burning smells. The caramel should heat, at the very least, to a color resembling dark honey. If you like a bitter caramel, go darker, to a nice rich brown (380 degrees F). Turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt. Stir well and pour the caramel into an ovenproof 1O-inch sauté pan or 9-inch pie plate. This can be done several hours in advance and left out at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel, core, and slice the apples about 1/4 inch thick. They need to be as uniform as possible to make the floral spiral pattern when it is done. In a large bowl, combine the apples, juice, and zest. Toss well. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir well to combine. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Sauté the apple mixture for about 3 minutes, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, until the outer edges get slightly soft. Cool them to room temperature.

To assemble the pie, select the prettiest, best-looking apple slices for the first layer—these will become the top face of the pie when it's nipped over. Starting from the center of the sauté pan with the caramel in it, overlap the apples in a spiral. Keep overlapping them in the same direction. When you have filled it to the outside edge of the pan, start another layer on top of it, working again from the center outward. After the third layer, you can just scatter the remaining apples on top.

Roll out the crust to a diameter slightly larger than your pan and lay it on top of the apples. Trim off any excess dough (more than a 1-inch overhang) and tuck the crust's edge under so that it hugs the edge of the fruit and the inside lip of the pan. This edge doesn't need to be crimped. Don't vent the crust or sprinkle sugar on this top crust—it will become the pie's bottom crust when it finishes baking and gets inverted.

Bake the tart for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for 30 minutes more, until the apples are bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

Cool the tart for 5 minutes before inverting. To invert, select a platter larger than the pie. Run a sharp knife tip around the edge of the pan between it and the crust. Place the platter upside down on the top of the pie pan like a lid. Holding the two together tightly, quickly flip them over so that the pie is sitting on the platter. Remove the sauté pan, scraping any caramel out onto the tart with a spatula. Serve slices of this pie warm or reheat them for 10 minutes in a 325 degrees F degrees degree oven. Store the pie in a manner that allows the pastry to breathe—either uncovered in a pie safe or covered with a light breathable cover, such as a pie screen, for up to 3 days.


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This page created November 2007