This classic French dessert can be tricky, but it’s delicious when it works. You can substitute the apples for plenty of other fruit such as pear, apricot, peaches or pineapple all of which work beautifully.
250g Puff pastry (ready made)
4-6 Cox or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8-12 wedges
110g Caster sugar
Crème fraîche or double cream to serve
Preparation and cooking
Preheat the oven to 250°C. Place the apple wedges in a bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over them and toss them gently. Select a heavy bottomed pan for the dish that can go into the oven.
Sprinkle the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan and place on the hob over a medium heat, turning the pan frequently and making sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Allow the sugar to caramelise a little and become a pale golden brown, then remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, being careful at this stage as the sugar mixture can easily burn you. Arrange the drained apple pieces in one layer over the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the apples have softened a bit and started to release some liquid – about 10 minutes, then remove from the oven.
Remove the pastry from the fridge (it needs to be nice and cold) and, rollout to a round disc just slightly bigger than the pan, and approx. 1cm thick. Lay over the apples and caramel mixture in the pan, gently pressing down the pastry to fill the gaps. Tuck the edges of the pastry underneath and into the edge of the pan (to form an upside lip on the edge of the pastry). Make a few slits in the pastry to remove any excess steam during cooking. Return to the oven, turn the heat down to 220°C and bake until the pastry is golden brown – about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a minute or two.
Take a heatproof serving dish that is generously larger than the pan on all sides and place over the pan. Protecting your hands with a dry folded tea-towel, and holding the dish and pan firmly together, quickly and carefully flip the pan and the dish so that the pan is on top. Tap the pan sharply a few times all round with a wooden spoon, then lift off. The tarte should be left on the serving dish with the apple on top. Serve warm with double cream, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.