The original recipe comes from “Fine Cooking”, the October/November 1994 edition. Steven Payne made it for us which was quite nice. The original called for a light butter shell, which was then changed by a recipe that Michelle likes. No spices were in the original.
For the tarte:
- 5-6 lbs apples (firm baking apples, Golden Delicious is the usual favorite, followed by Granny Smith, Braeburn. You just don’t want ones that will disintegrate when cooked)
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- spices, such as cinnamon, clove and ginger
For the caramel:
- 4 oz unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
For the crust:
- pate sucre
- puff pastry
- pie crust
- deep pan with heavy base – a cast iron pan will do, but something taller is better
- 2 jelly roll pans – 1 to capture runoff, one to help flip
- Peel apples and scoop out stems and flower ends with knife or melon baller. Put the apples in lemon water to keep from browning, up to 12 hours, refrigerated.
- Cut apples in half, scoop out center with melon baller or knife, then rub with lemon.
- Melt the butter in the pan.
- Sprinkle the sugar and cook over medium-high heat without stirring until the sugar starts to melt at the edges.
- Stir gently. If you stir with too much force, you will crystalize the sugar into chunks that can not be undone. Do not worry if the butter separates and flotes to the top as that will be absorbed by the apples later.
- The sugar will start to color and caramelize rather fast. When that happens, lower the heat and cook to a deep, golden brown.
- Add the apples standing up, so that the cut side is perpendicular. Make sure not to splash it. The original article suggests letting the pan cool for 3-5 minutes before adding apples, to avoid the hot splashing. Pack the apples in as tightly as possible as they will shrink while cooking.
- Then turn the heat on high and cook the apples in the caramel. The apples will give off juices, which mixes with the caramel, which meals the apples get more infused with caramel.
- Half way through the cooking process flip the apples.
- Cook until apples are caramelized, 10-15 minutes. You want to make sure that all the juice has evaporated. You don’t want to soak the pastry when it is unmolded. The recipe says that this can sometimes be 35 minutes total cook time if they are very firm apples.
- Let the apples cool to “tepid”.
- Process 3/4 cups flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
- Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
- Trim overhang to ½ inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against rim of pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp.
- Press th edough into the pan. Freeze, if possible, before baking, for 15-30 minutes.
- Roll out the pastry so it is about an inch larger than the pan.
- Drape over the apple pan. Cut off excess if you like, or just shove it down around the apples if you want a more rustic look.
- Heat the oven to 375°. Higher if using puff pastry.
- Bake the pastry in the oven 15-20 min utnil crisp and brown.
- Remove and let cool for 20 minutes.
- Flip and enjoy.
- Goes well with vanilla and or ginger ice cream.