A Taste of Fall

October 16, 2009

Sure the dropping temperatures, shorter days and falling leaves are all tell-tale signs that autumn is upon us and winter isn’t far behind.  But for me, nothing says fall better than the air in my home redolent with the comforting fragrance of pumpkin bread, maple-glazed brussel sprouts or my new (old) favorite, Tarte Tatin. 

Sweet, gooey carmelized apples with a rich buttery crust.  Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or pure whipped cream.  Simply divine.  This recipe allows the pure, sweet flavor of the apples to be the star of the show.  Or the “Elstar” rather.

The kids and hubby went apple picking in Spokane a few weeks back and brought home the most wonderfully perfect apples for my Tarte Tatin or any other apple dessert for that matter.   Since they bought a whole box home I have been on a mission to showcase these gems appropriately.  Our favorite of the harvest is called the Elstar apple.  And it’s delicious! 

 I did a little research and found out that Elstar’s are decendants of the Golden Delicious.  I can vouch for the fact that they have a honeyed sweet taste and while crunchy, they aren’t necessarily crisp or hard.  Their skin (as you can see) is mostly blush-red and they have a lemony-white flesh.  Yum!elstar apple

Here is my recipe for Tarte Tatin.  I hope you enjoy eating it as much as we have.  Now I’ve got to run (literally) to burn off the big ice cream topped slice I hoovered down last night!  Enjoy.

Tarte Tatin (recipe adapted from Judith Ets.Hokins Homechef Basic Cooking class)
4 oz. sugar (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp. water
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
5 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
1/2 lb. short pastry*
Preheat the oven to 375.  Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy skillet and cook over high heat until the sugar turns to a golden caramel.  Very carefully (the caramel will be very hot) pour the caramel into the bottom of an 8″ cake pan, tilting the pan so that the caramel coats the bottom.
Lay the apple slices over the caramel and dot with butter. 
Roll out the pastry about 1/4″ thick and about 2 inches larger than the pan.  Lay the pastry on top of the apples tucking it in around the edges. 
Bake the tart about 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.  Allow the tart to cool about 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving platter, so that the crust becomes the base, with the caramelized apples on top.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Top with vanilla ice cream if desired. 
Basic Short Pastry (makes 1 lb. of dough)
8 oz. unbleached white flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
5 oz. unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces and chilled or frozen
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
4-6 Tbsp. cold water
This works really well in a food processor.  Combine the flour and salt.  Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly.  Add the lemon juice and then the water gradually, until the dough gathers together. 
If done in the machine you can use right away.  If not, flatten the dough, sprinkle with a little flour and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.

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