Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin is an upside-down apple tart, and gives me another excuse to use my cast-iron skillet! It was first invented, according to tradition, at the Hotel Tatin in France when the apples for an apple pie cooked too long and began to burn, but guests loved the resulting taste! Now, a tarte tatin is one in which the apples are caramelized first, before the whole thing goes in the oven.

Make the pastry crust to begin with: spoon out 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Place in a large bowl, and cut in 6 tablespoons of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), using a pastry blender if you have one or two knives if you don't. In a small bowl, combine the equivalent of one egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G), with 2 tablespoons of water. Add to the flour mixture, and stir just until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap; knead 5 times, then pat into a disk. Cover with additional plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile, over the stovetop, combine 4 tablespoons of water with one cup raw sugar in your cast-iron skillet (a 9- or 10-inch will do). Heat over medium-heat for 10 minutes, stirring only as long as it takes for the sugar to dissolve (the first minute or two).

Remove from heat, and stir in small circles to distribute the sugar evenly throughout the pan. Let stand 5 minutes.

Here is where I had to use my imagination a little. The recipe said to peel, core, and quarter 4 Golden Delicious apples (about 2 pounds total) - that much was easy enough. The instruction to arrange 14 of the apple quarters in a tight circle, starting from the "outside" made less sense. Relying on photos of other tarte tatin online, I arranged 14 apple quarters in a circle around the rim of the pan, core-side up, leaving a smaller circle empty in the middle. Cut the remaining 2 apple quarters in half, and place in the space left in the center of the pan, core-sides down (the original recipe said "point-sides up", but this directive made no sense at all to me).

Here's a photo as the apples caramelize, to give you an idea:

Return the skillet to the burner over medium heat, and cook for 20 minutes without stirring, though pressing down on the apples occasionally to extract their juices. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon.

Remove the plastic wrap from your dough and roll into an 11-inch circle. Fit over the apples, tucking it down between the apples and the skillet, almost like you're folding them into a blanket.

Place in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove and let stand 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Use care when doing this - the skillet is heavy, and still hot! I have to admit, I almost can't believe that it worked.

Traditionally, a wedge would be served with a dollop of creme fraiche. The closest substitute to is sour cream, which means the closest vegan substitute is the Better Than Sour Cream from Tofutti:

One-tenth of the tart plus a teaspoon of 'sour cream' is 290 calories.

Golden Delicious apples $3.14

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance