The year is 1898. The place is the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France. In this fateful year a delicious mistake saw the creation of the Tarte Tatin. No one is really sure how this happy accident came about, much like the great chocolate/peanut butter debate. Some say that a greatly overworked Stéphanie Tatin, the cooking half of the two Tatin sisters that ran the hotel at the time, accidently overcooked the apples for a traditional apple pie. In an effort to save them she quickly covered them with pie dough and tossed them in the oven. Inverting the apple tart, and much to her surprise, the guests of the hotel loved the dessert. Others believe that she was simply creating an ordinary apple tart and accidently baked it upside down. I personally believe she was probably just having fun in the kitchen. Regardless of how the Tarte Tatin was created all that matters is that it was, and this upside-down apple tart made with apples caramelized in butter and sugar has been delighting diners ever since. Read on to find out how to make your own Tarte Tatin.
Starting with your apples cut each in half and then cut each half into 4 lengthwise wedges. It’s important that you use a dessert apple and not a baking apple which tend to get mealy in this application, Golden Delicious tend to work best. In a bowl toss the apple wedges in the lemon juice and sugar. Drain the apples after soaking for 15 minutes.
In a 9 in. skillet over high heat melt the butter and add the remaining sugar. Cook the butter and sugar until it creates a nice brown caramel then remove the pan from the heat. Take the drained apple wedges and arrange them in the caramel in a circular pattern around the pan. After one layer add the remaining apples neatly on top. You can really use any pattern you want, just remember you will see them since you will be turning the tart upside-down when you are done, just have fun. Return the pan to medium heat and continue cooking the apples until the juices and caramel becomes thick and syrupy.
Roll out your pie dough so that it forms a round roughly one inch wider than your pan. Place the dough over the apples and press down so that the edges are inside the pan and the dough is in good contact with the apples. Cut several slits into the dough to allow steam to escape and bake in a preheated oven set to 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes until the dough is brown and crispy.
When finished place a serving dish on the top of the pan and invert to unmold the tart (the dough should be on the bottom). Serve warm with either whipped cream or ice cream.