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For over 45 years, I’ve been having an affair. A passionate, and at times all consuming affair. With apples. From the first appearance of fresh apples in the fall through the end of winter, it isn’t uncommon for me to eat three two of these a day. Last Saturday, as I was standing in line at the farmer’s market waiting to pay for two large bags of apples a woman next to me remarked that I must have a large family. I just smiled – I didn’t have the courage to confess that my family wasn’t large and that the apples were all for me. Perhaps it’s time for me to join AA (Apples Anonymous). This affair started out innocently enough.. first applesauce, then apple slices and then my Grandmother’s Apple Tart (or pie as we say in the states). It was this dessert that launched my love of apples into a full blown affair. Flour, butter, sugar and apples. Simple ingredients that are transformed into something far greater and more delicious than their parts.
Since this seems to be a day for confessing secrets I’ve got another one (actually 2 but whose counting?). Growing up, we did not have pumpkin pie for dessert on Thanksgiving. Ever. In fact, the only pumpkin in sight was the one on the table for decoration. To this day, I am not exactly sure why. It probably has to do with the fact that Thanksgiving was not a holiday of long standing tradition in my family. Both sets of my grandparents were immigrants to this country and I was the first generation (on my mother’s side) to be born in the U.S. Nope, in our house it was always my grandmother’s apple tart. I have yet to master her apple tart and after she stopped making it, other desserts took it’s place at the Thanksgiving table. No one seemed to miss it.. except me. I’ve flirted with other apple desserts but none could compare to my first love.. that apple tart. Ah, but then came Tarte Tatin. Containing those same simple ingredients it has the same transformational qualities. I didn’t become aquainted with Tarte Tatin until a few years ago – and with it my love affair with apples blossomed into another full blown affair. So, this year, my newest love will be gracing the table.. Tarte Tatin!
I wish you all a happy and joyous Thanksgiving holiday and, as we say in our family hope that you “gobble ’til you wobble”!!!
Serves 6 – 8
(Adapted from Fine Cooking (for the apples) and David Lebovitz ( for the crust)
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp. sugar
3/8 tsp. salt
9 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled
4 1/2 Tbsp. ice cold water
7 – 9 Jonagold or Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
- .Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until coarsely mixed into the flour.
- . Add the ice cold water by tablespoons and mix, testing dough after each addition. When dough holds together when pinched dough is ready. Gather dough into a ball and knead three or four times, until dough holds together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
- Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Peel, core and quarter 7 of the apples. Place the butter into a 10 inch heavy bottomed oven proof skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat.
- After the butter is melted, use a pastry brush to coat the sides of the skillet with butter.
- Add the sugar to the butter in the pan and mix – spread the butter/sugar mixture over the bottom of the pan and remove the pan from the heat.
- Place the apple quarters into the pan, rounded sides down, arranging the apples in concentric circles. Pack the apples in – they will shrink as they cook.
- Place the pan over medium to medium high heat. Cook the apples until the apple juices have almost boiled away and the butter/sugar/apple juice mixture is thick and golden brown – about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Remove pan from the heat. Set aside.
- Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board to an 11 inch circle. If dough cracks a bit at edges, don’t worry – you are going to tuck the edges of the dough into the pan.
- When dough is rolled out, roll pastry onto rolling pin and unroll on top of apples, letting excess dough hang over the edge of the pan.
- Using a small metal spatula or a butter knive, tuck the dough inside of the pan – don’t worry if it isn’t completely even or neat since this will be the bottom of the tart. When done, prick the top of the pastry with a fork.
- Place skillet on a foil lined baking sheet and place in the oven.
- Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove skillet from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen the pastry.
- Cover the skillet with a large serving platter. Using oven mitts, flip the skillet with the platter on top until the platter is on the bottom and skillet is on the top. Carefully remove the skillet. Some apples may stick to the skillet – carefully remove the apples and replace on the tart. Let the tart cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. If making ahead, you can re heat the tart for 10 or 15 minutes at 350 degrees.