I first had tarte tatin when working as a sous-chef at restaurant Natasha, in Paris. I watched, fascinated, as its chef, Jean-Marc Forteneau, prepared it. He caramelized apples in a skillet then topped them with pastry. When he inverted the tart onto a plate and the luscious apples were revealed resting on the crust, I couldn’t have been happier. Until I tasted the tart, which was amazing. My version is all you want from a tarte tatin plus it’s flavored with five-spice powder, which takes the usual cinnamon-apple combo to a higher, more interesting place. Served warm with vanilla ice cream, this is as good as it gets. No, better.
Five-Spice Tarte Tatin
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, diced
- 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
- 1½ cups sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
- Make the crust: In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks with ¼ cup very coldwater. In a food processor, combine the flour and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the processor running, add the egg yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream and process just until the dough holds together and is no longer crumbly. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide it in half. Make a ball of each half and flatten into discs. Wrap each disc separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to a week. If not using the second dough within that time, wrap it in plastic then in foil, tuck into a resealable plastic bag, and freeze for up to 3 months for another use.
- In a large bowl, combine the apples, ½ cup of the sugar, the five-spice powder and lemon juice. Toss and let sit for 30 minutes. Drain the apples, reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron pan over medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar and the reserved apple juice and cook, stirring constantly, until a light caramel-brown syrup forms, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Working from the outside in, shingle the apples in the pan. Slide one apple slice to the side and baste the apples, and while keeping a watchful eye, cook until the caramel is dark amber, about 3 minutes. Cook for about another 10 minutes, until the apples are al dente.
- Place 1 dough disc on a large sheet of parchment paper and roll it out into a circle, about ¼ inch thick, that will fit the pan with about a ¼-inch overhang. Top the apples with the dough, tucking the edges of the dough between the apples and the side of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake until the crust is brown, about 10 minutes more.
- Remove the tart from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the tart. Top with a serving dish and being careful of the hot caramel, invert the pan and dish. The tart should drop onto the plate easily; if it doesn’t, reinvert the pan and place it on the stove over mediumhigh heat for 1 to 2 minutes to further melt the caramel and help the tart to release. Cut into slices and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
This recipe makes enough dough for two tarts. Use one half and store the other, as the recipe directs, for another tart or quiche.
A Prosecco, like Lunetta, or a Calvados
© Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy by Ming Tsai with Arthur Boehm, Kyle Books, 2012.