Puff Pastry on the Run (adapted from Jill Van Cleave)
(This recipe calls for salted butter, which I think pairs well with the sweet caramel. The recipe yields 1¼ pounds of pastry dough- you will only need half for the tatin; wrap the other half in plastic and freeze for a later date. It’s perfect for turnovers.)
1½ cups bread flour plus additional for rolling out the dough
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cold, cut into ½” pieces
½ cup cold water
Place the flour and cream of tartar in a medium mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Cut in the cold butter cubes using a bench scraper. The mixture should be crumbly with pieces of butter about the size of corn kernels. Gradually add the cold water, using a fork to incorporate until you have a shaggy dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Flatten into a disc and sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about ½’ thick.
Brush the excess flour from the dough. Fold the short ends in to meet in the middle, then fold in half, lengthwise, forming 4 layers of dough. Once more, roll the dough out into a rectangle, dusting the parchment with additional flour. Fold up the dough again, first with the short ends meeting in the middle, then in half. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Repeat the roll/fold sequence twice more, each time rolling the dough out into a rectangle, folding the short ends in to meet in the middle, then folding in half. Don’t overdo it with the flour- just add the least amount to prevent the dough from sticking. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an additional 20 minutes.
For the Tarte Tatin, you will need half of the dough; roll it out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper to a circle about 1 inch larger than the pan you are using. I used a 10” All-Clad pan and rolled the dough out to 11” in diameter and about ⅛” thick. Reserve the leftover dough, wrapped in plastic wrap for another use. Refrigerate the circle of dough for the Tarte Tatin while you prepare the filling.
For the Tarte Tatin-
7-8 apples, peeled, cored, quartered (I used a combination of Honeycrisp, Braeburn and Granny Smith. The number of apples depends on the size of your pan and the size of the apples; buy 3 pounds and go from there)
zest and juice of one small lemon
1½ cups sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½”pieces
¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
an egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Place the apples in a large bowl, toss with the zest, lemon juice and ½ cup of sugar, (reserving 1 cup of sugar for the caramel). Let the apples steep for 20 minutes; they will give up a good bit of juice. Drain them well and set aside while you prepare the caramel.
In a heavy-duty pan, (I used a 10” all-clad braiser) melt the butter over medium heat then add the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup bubbles and turns caramel brown. (Several minutes is a loose term; keep an eye on things here.) Remove from the heat.
Starting from the outside edge and working in, place the apple quarters in the pan, rounded side down. (The apples hug each other, at a slight angle.) Cook the apples and the caramel on top of the stove for 20-25 minutes. The apples will cook down (lend them a hand by gently pressing down with a wooden spoon and basting them in some of the caramel/apple syrup.) The apples will soften and shrink but you don’t want them to be overly soft. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. (Note: If the apples are swimming in liquid, you can/should pour off some of the caramel/apple syrup into a small pan, reduce these juices, then add them back.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. If you haven't already, retrieve the pastry dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll the dough into a circle about 11” in diameter and ⅛” thick. Return the dough (on the parchment) to the fridge, letting it chill for 15 minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Using the parchment paper to help you, carefully fold the dough in half and place it over the pan of apples. Unfold it and cover the apples completely, tucking the excess under the apples and fluting it around the edges. Brush with the egg wash and place on the bottom shelf of the pre-heated oven. Place a baking sheet beneath it on the very bottom of the oven to catch any drips. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Wearing serious oven mitts, carefully tilt the pan and pour off any runaway juices; this will help things in the end. STILL WEARING OVEN MITTS, place the tarte on top of the stove over medium heat and give it a swirl, cooking down the juices in the bottom of the pan for just a minute or two, to thicken them. Place the tarte back on the cooling rack, let it sit for 5 minutes, then MOST CAREFULLY, WEARING OVEN MITTS, run an offset spatula around the edge of the pan then invert the tarte onto a serving platter. Juices will run out of the pan and are delicious, but hot. You’ve been warned. Serve warm. Dream of Provence.