We should all have a solid command of the ABCs of baking. Thankfully, Food52's Test Kitchen Manager Erin McDowell -- alongside photographer Sarah Stone, who both blog at The Shutter Oven -- is here, with tips and tricks to help you master the most essential desserts and the simplest breads.
Today: An impressive, classic, and cozy dessert for fall -- that's made entirely in the oven.
I may have clung a little too hard to summer this year. I was not ready for my last tomato salad or peach galette. But last week, the smell of apple pies baking (and apple butter simmering on the stovetop) finally got me excited for fall.
When fall arrives, there’s one dessert I especially love to make: tarte tatin. It’s beyond easy: Heat the butter and sugar in a skillet (it will turn into a gooey caramel in the oven), then add some apples and a slab of dough to hold it all together. In the grand tradition of so many simple desserts, it’s assembled upside-down, which makes it easy to prepare -- and creates an extravagant presentation when it’s turned out. Plus, unlike some tarte tatin recipes, everything happens in the oven -- so you don't have to worry about making caramel on the stovetop.
By nature, tarte tatin is a basic dessert. While most recipes call for store-bough puff pastry, my unending desire to make everything homemade leads me to another option: pie crust. So I make a super-flaky pie crust and treat it like puff pastry, folding it a few times to create layers. Then, I roll it out and use it as the base for the tarte tatin. It’s not as flaky as puff pastry, but it’s a fabulous substitute -- crisp, buttery, and easy to pull off (especially at the last minute).
Makes one 9-inch tarte
For the pie crust:
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
6 to 8 tablespoons (2 to 3 fluid ounces) ice water, or more as needed
For the Tarte Tatin:
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 ounces) granulated sugar (bonus points for vanilla sugar!)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons fleur de sel
4 large baking apples (like Honeycrisp, Braeburn, or Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and quartered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A note to all of the readers: Thanks for your comments about providing weights in Baking Basics recipes. Because Food52 is a website for home cooks, I initially developed all of the recipes to be made with volume measurements. However, thanks to your comments, I now know avid home bakers care about precision as much as any professional, and have gone back and added weight measurements to past Baking Basics recipes. I will continue to provide weight measurements (when applicable) from here on out. Thanks so much for the feedback!
Photos by Erin McDowell