Thursday, November 27, 2008
UPSIDE DOWN APPLE TART
This is an apple tart/pie that I have been wanting to try. I love apple pies but don't relish going through all the effort of making them especially when it requires crusts both above and below and even more so if it has a lattice top. Of course there is no one stopping me from making an ugly pie but I wouldn't waste my time on that either.
So at long last, finally, in the end, ultimately and eventually I dragged myself to the bag of bright green Granny Smith's in the fridge and did I NOT enjoy peeling them. Another reason I don't really fancy making apple pie. But I did it and I was absolutely happy with the results.
So happy was I and my two boys at home that they were hovering around like flies when it came out of the oven. I had to click away at the pie with my camera before it got dragged out of the frame. That was how good it looked, how dizzyingly good it smelled and with a taste to match.
The pastry bottom was absolutely perfect in my book. It was a cross betweena short crust and a short bread. Just-nice sweet, crumbly, tender and buttery. PERFECT.
The topping was caramel like, dark and glossy and had that golden sweet flavour of caramelized apples. The original recipe called for Golden Delicious and warned that it would be dripping with caramel when it came out of the oven. Well mine was not dripping with caramel probably because the apples I used were not Golden Delicious.
And perhaps, also, because I used a bamboo steamer cover while the apples cooked on the stove so there was absorption rather than condensation taking place as they cooked; leaving no excess liquid in the apple filling.
The thought of having caramel dripping all over sounds heavenly but even without the dripping it was PERFECT as only heaven could be. All right I may be exaggerating but it was very very very good.
I tweaked the recipe for the pastry a little as I did not want to use icing sugar so I used castor sugar instead to provide a little crunch. And instead of lemon rind I used the rind of an orange which smelt so good when I was making it but in the end the flavour from the orange rind was overwhelmed by the yummy apple filling upon baking and I suppose it didn't really matter whether there was orange or lemon rind in it after all.
This apple tart would have been absolutely scrumptious with ice cream but there wasn't any and no one could wait the trip to the supermarket so we gobbled it down as it was. PERFECT.
For this recipe you would need a heavy skillet. I used a cast iron skillet/pan that I had bought years ago, meant obviously for something else but it worked well with the apple tart nevertheless, that measures about 10 inches in diameter and about an inch high. The original recipe called for a height of 2 inches. I didn't have that so I halved the apple filling recipe and carried on from there. In spite of that, the proportion of apple to pastry was PERFECT. For me anymore apple filling than that would have been too much although some people would perhaps like more apple than crust. In this tart it was half and half.
I know, I know....before I bore you to death................here is the recipe......
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed small
2 large egg yolks
a little cold water if necessary
zest of 1 orange
Stir together flour, sugar and salt. Cut butter into the flour and crumble it until mixture is like fine breadcrumbs. Add a little cold water, maybe a teaspoon at first and bring the pastry together with your fingers. Do not handle with your whole hand especially in warm/hot weather like ours. Once the pastry comes together nicely in a lump and is not crumbly let it sit in the fridge for about fifteen or twenty minutes to firm up a little.
In that case do the filling first because the filling takes about an hour to cook.
TIP : This pastry is very delicate and you may find difficulty lifting it up to drape over the apple filling. So one way is to make sure the skillet of apple filling is right next to where you roll out the pastry. That will make it much much easier. But even if it breaks it is no big problem. Just pat it back into place over the filling.
TIP : Flour the board or table well before you roll out the pastry. Because it is quite a rich pastry the tendency to stick to the surface is greater.
1/3 cup icing sugar
2 lbs of apples (I used Granny Smiths) peeled, cored, sliced into eigths,
6 Tabspn butter, melted
In a heavy 10 inch oven proof skillet with straight sides like in the picture, sprinkle the bottom with 6 tablespoons of the icing sugar.
Arrange a layer of apples in tight concentric circles (I suppose I didn't make it tight enough) over the sugar. Brush the apples with melted butter and dust with cinnamon as much or as little as you like. Repeat the layers until all the apples are used up.
This is the final stage in the layering of the apples, sugar and cinnamon.
Cover with lid or with a buttered foil or a bamboo steamer cover and simmer over low to medium low heat for one hour until the apples are soft and the sugar caramelized. Be careful not to burn them. :D Unfortunately I burnt the centre of the apple filling as you can see in the last pic as I was careless with the flame BUT it did no great harm.
When the apple filling is done roll out the pastry to a circle big enough to fit the top of the skillet. Lift the pastry carefully. I did it the cheffy way by draping it over the rolling pin and carrying it over to the skillet with the rolling pin in hand :D
Cover the filling with the pastry and tuck in any stray edges. Bake in 180 C oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Because my apples were a little burnt in the middle and I did not want to burn it anymore in the oven I placed thick wads of newspaper on the baking tray before placing the skillet on it. It provides some insulation from the heat and I hoped that the apple filing would be safe and not burnt any further. I succeeded.
This is the cooked pie filling and ready for the pastry to be draped over the top. See the thick wads of newspaper underneath?
When the pastry top is nice and golden take it out of the oven.
Invert the tart carefully onto a dish with fairly deep sides if you used Golden Delicious but not necessary if you used Granny Smiths like I did. I'm not very sure whether the different apples used were the cause of less liquid in my apple filling though. I'm just guessing but it is a calculated guess.
Slice and enjoy with a pouring custard or better still with a smooth, silky scoop of vanilla ice cream!
TIP : If you would like a thicker pie use a smaller sized oven proof skillet.
TIP : Place the plate or dish over the skillet before inverting. I did it about 5 minutes out of the oven so do be careful. It's hot! And the skillet is heavy!