Makes 6 servings
Although Tarte Tatin seems quite elegant and, in some restaurants, liberties have been taken to fancy it up, it is really just a simple apple tart. Though fancy versions exist, we think that simpler is better. Remove all the bells and whistles and keep it simple—a good pastry dough; flavorful, firm, tart apples; and maybe a little whipped cream on the side.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon, lemon reserved for the apples
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, pod reserved for the apples
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 6 crisp-tart apples, such as Honeycrisps or Granny Smiths
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon, from the reserved lemon
- Reserved vanilla bean pod
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Lightly sweetened soft whipped cream, as needed (optional)
- To make the dough: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds with the butter until it looks like cornmeal.
- Add the egg yolk and water and pulse again just until it just forms a ball. Flatten the ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 to 40 minutes.
- On a lightly floured board or work surface, roll out the chilled dough into a 10-inch round about 1/4-inch thick and refrigerate, covered.
- To make the caramelized apples: Peel and core the apples and cut them in half. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Sprinkle the sugar into an 8-inch nonstick sauté pan and then pour in the lemon juice. Turn the heat to medium, add the vanilla pod, and cook until the sugar starts to brown. When the sugar is a dark caramel and almost burned, remove and discard the vanilla bean pod and place the apples, round side down, in the pan, along with the butter, and press them into them into the caramelized syrup. Cook the apples for about 10 minutes before placing the dough on top.\
- Reduce the heat while you apply the dough. Place the dough round on top of the sauté pan and, using a rubber spatula, press the sides down into the pan, tucking it in so that it forms a small rim. This way, when the tart is flipped out of the pan, the little rim will catch any extra caramel.