Something strange happened the other day: I discovered an apple treat made WITHOUT cinnamon that I enjoyed. Without cinnamon. A few days ago I would have told you that it was impossible to make an apple dessert without its lovely cinnamon. I mean, they're like salt and pepper, milk and cookies, French fries and ketchup, Corona and lime.... They can't truly THRIVE without each other.
But then I happened upon a recipe for Tarte Tatin, a necessary ending to my fine French supper the other night. Julia's recipe I did not use as that resides in the second volume of which I am without at this point in time. So I took out my trusty Bubby's Homemade Pies to search out an apple tart recipe. It did not fail me.
Another recipe I've been intimidated by (man, I need to regain a bit of confidence in the cooking/baking department these days....!!), for it requires you to bake your pie upside down. You place your filling in the bottom of the dish, the crust on top, and then you invert your pie once it comes out of the oven so that your delightful apple 'flower' is featured.
And, as I was saying, no cinnamon. The caramel sauce drizzled into the bottom of the pan soaks into the lemony apples. Hence, the result is a zingy, caramelized flavor. It stands on its own without the help of my trusty cinnamon.
Truly, I didn't even miss the cinnamon.
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. unsalted butter
pinch of salt
3 lbs. apples
2 T. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 T. lemon zest
1/2 c. sugar
pinch of salt
4 T. unsalted butter
To Make Caramel: Place water in a saucepan and add the sugar. Heat over medium-high heat, shaking the pan as the sugar dissolves so that it mixes and does not stick to the edges of the pan. Do not stir. It is important to keep the sugar-water moving so that it does not burn. Eventually the sugar-water will boil rapidly and begin to gel a bit. Keep shaking the pan around. It is done when it becomes a light shade of brown. If you like really burnt caramel, you can wait until it is the color of amber and reads about 380 F on a candy thermometer. (I made mine without the thermometer, removing it from the heat when it was somewhere in between honey and amber colored.) Pour this into the bottom of your pie dish to cover the bottom. It can be made ahead and set out at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Peel and core apples, slicing to about 1/4 in. thickness. You want them to be of uniform size as they will be made into a spiral pattern in your dish. Toss them in a bowl with the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Heat them in a large saucepan on the stove over medium heat until the edges are soft. Cool to room temperature. (So that you do not burn your fingers while assembling like I did because I'm too impatient.)
Using the dish coated in caramel, make a spiral pattern starting from the center outwards, using your nicest looking apples on the bottom. Continue the pattern a second time on top of the first layer. At the third layer, just toss in the remaining apples.
Roll out your pie crust to a size slightly larger than the pie dish. Place the crust on top of the apples and trim off around the edges leaving about an inch extra. Fold the edges around the apples. This will be the bottom of the crust eventually so no need to vent or decorate.
Bake the tart for 15 minutes. Then, turn the oven down to 350 F and bake 30 more minutes.
Cool the tart for 5 minutes before inverting. Run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen the tart. Place a dish larger than the tart on top of the pie dish. Flip it over quickly (key word -- otherwise it will slide like mine) to remove the tart from the pan. Scrape out any remaining caramel and drizzle over the top.