So which one is better? It’s a showdown between tarts and things are about to get ugly (or really really delicious).
A tarte tatin consists of caramelized apples cut into larger chunks on top of a flaky crust. It’s made in a pan and it’s the rustic (and better tasting in my opinion) cousin of apple pie. On the other hand, tarte aux pommes is the neat polished sibling that comes out of the oven the way it went in – exactly how you meticulously arranged the painstakingly thin slices. It’s got a nicely even crust unlike the somewhat unruly one of the tarte tatin.
Even though both are really good alternatives to traditional apple pie, each brings something unique. I used the same crust for both, which was essentially just pie crust, and I used the same type of apples. The apples I used weren’t the best, but it still turned out wonderfully. Both tarts involve cooking the apples prior to baking. This helps release the juices in the apple first, to avoid soaking the crust while baking. You can roll out the crusts beforehand and keep them in the freezer to save time. If you were, say, having a dinner party, I would suggest making the tarte aux pommes.
The tarte tatin has a somewhat nerve wracking step of flipping the tart over onto a plate. Take care not to send the tart flying (which I’m sure you won’t). Just secretly rearrange the apples back in place while no one is looking and you’ll be all set. On the other hand, rest assured there won’t be any acrobatics involved with tarte aux pommes.
Serve both warm, and you absolutely must serve with vanilla ice cream or some crème fraîche. It’s a crime to not do so.
But back to the original issue – which tart will be crowned. In terms of taste, I think I might have to go with the tarte tatin. Caramelizing the apples gives it a wonderful flavor and texture, and having the crust on top while baking gives it maximum flakiness. The tarte aux pommes crust on the bottom isn’t as flaky and even though I enjoy the texture of the differently cooked apples, it didn’t strike me as much as the caramelized apples. Having said all that though, I still strongly encourage you to try both. They use pretty much the same ingredients, and everybody may have their own preferences as to which they prefer.
Makes two 9″ pie crusts (enough for one pie and two tarts)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons), cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons cold water (more if needed)
1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and sugar.
2. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or a fork. Sometimes using your hands to rub the butter into the flour helps as well. Continue until there are no more large chunks butter left.
3. Sprinkle the cold water onto the butter/flour mixture and mix. If the dough is not wet enough to ball up, keep adding water one tablespoon at a time. Only add just enough water.
4. Pat the dough into two balls. Do not knead. Cover in seran wrap, and refrigerate for 3-4 hours before using
Makes one 9″ tart
1 pie crust (see recipe above)
6 medium sized apples
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of vanilla powder
juice from half a lemon
Preheat oven to 400F
1/ Roll out the dough into a 10″ circle. Keep this inside the refrigerator until use.
2/ Peel, core and cut the apples into 1/8 wedges. This is what I did, but if you’d prefer larger chunks, you can keep them in 1/4 wedges. Toss these with lemon juice to prevent browning.
3/ In a 9″ oven safe pan, add the butter and sugar over medium heat. Add the apples.
4/ Cook the apples until the color turns caramel, the apples are soft, and all the extra juice thickens up. This can take up to 20 min.
5/ Arrange the apples so that the round side is facing down and lie the crust on top of the apples. Tuck the dough into the sides of the pan. Poke a few holes on top with a fork.
6/ Bake for 25 min, or until the crust is golden brown.
7/ Let the pan sit for 5 min, to let it cool. Place a large on top the pan, and using oven mitts, flip the pan upside down. Slowly remove the pan. If there are any apples astray, push them back into place.
8/ Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche
Tarte aux pommes
makes one 9″ tart
1 pie crust
6 medium sized apples
1/4 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons sugar
dash of cinnamon
dash of vanilla
1-2 tablespoons rum + 1 teaspoon rum
2 tablespoons butter
juice of half a lemon
1 scoop of apricot jelly
Preheat oven to 400F
1/ Roll out pie crust into a 9″ tart pan. Refrigerate until use.
2/ Peel, core, and cut up four of the apples into chunks and 2 of the apples into thin slices. Toss the apple slices with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice.
3/ In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the apple chunks with 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, 1-2 tablespoons rum (optional), and butter. Cook until juice is reduced and apples are tender. This may take 20 min.
4/ Spread the apple chunks into the prepared tart shell. Neatly place the apple slices on top in circles. Bake for 30 min, until the apples are slightly burnt on top.
5/ Mix the apricot with the rum (which, if you’d rather, you could replace with some water), and brush on top of the apples.
6/ Serve warm with vanilla ice cream