This recipe is from the classic Silver Palate Cookbook. It's such an unusual apple tart, and also exceedingly delicious. The tart is baked in a cast iron skillet. There is a layer of solid caramel on the bottom, then poached apples, and then on top, a layer of puff pastry. There are quite a few steps in making the tart, but it's not very difficult. Because the apples are poached first, and then baked next to the caramel, this tart has so much flavor, much more than a basic apple tart.
Ellen's Apple Tart
4 medium-to-large tart cooking apples peeled, cored, and halved
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons Calvados (or use apple cider)
1 lb. of puff pastry
1. Poach the apples (recipe follows), removing them from the syrup while they are still slightly firm. Omit the cooling period in the syrup. Transfer the apples to a strainer set over a bowl and allow them to cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, pour the sugar and water into a 10-inch cast iron frying pan and stir to combine. Set over medium heat and cook, watching carefully until the sugar syrup reaches a golden brown. Remove immediately from the heat and set the pan on a cool surface. The caramelized sugar will harden.
3. Place one apple half, rounded side down, on the caramelized sugar in the center of the pan. Surround with 6 of the remaining halves, placing them close together. Slice the last half into 6 slices and place them in the spaces between the apples in the ring, with their rounded edges outward.
4. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice, nutmeg and Calvados, and drizzle over apples.
5. Preheat the oven to 425F.
6. Roll out the puff pastry to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut out a round 12 inches in diameter. Place over the apples and roll the edges of the pastry back 1 inch all around to give the edges a finished look.
7. Place the tart in a 425F oven. Bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the syrup is bubbling around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. If the pastry browns too quickly, cover it with foil.
8. When the tart is done, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
1 1/2 cups sugar
piece of cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1/2 vanilla bean
zest of 1 lemon, cut into fine julienne
1 pound fruit of your choice
1. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and lemon zest in 1 quart of water.
2. Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add 1 pound fruit of your choice (apples and pears should be peeled, cored and quartered; peaches and apricots should be poached whole and peeled only after they are cool). Bring the syrup back to a simmer and cook the fruit gently until the fruit is tender but not mushy, about 12 minutes. Do not overcook!
4. Remove the pan from the heat and let the fruit cool in the syrup.
5. The fruit is now ready to be served, but can be stored in the poaching liquid in the refrigerator.