This rustic tart is perfect if you, like myself, are somewhat intimidated by other tart recipes. If it's not pretty, don't worry: It doesn't have to be! And if the final flip goes awry, do what I do and call it Apple Tart: Deconstructed. —Hi, I'm Brian.
Test Kitchen Notes
It’s a simply titled recipe, and author “Hi, I’m Brian” has an easy-going way of describing the process, but don’t be fooled. Even if you can make it after work on a Tuesday, and even if it is a fun and surprisingly simple process, this tarte is secretly sophisticated and complex. The combination of the classic Golden Delicious apples, apple butter (which adds a subtle hit of cinnamon), and orange zest (reminiscent of Grand Marnier) makes this tarte taste like a luxury. —Shawna Ernst
Peel, core, and slice the apples. Toss with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set in a colander to drain for 20 to 30 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the apples, apple butter, and orange zest.
Whisk together the 3/4 cup sugar and the water in a 9-inch, heavy-bottomed skillet, and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture turns a deep golden brown.
Remove the skillet from heat and decoratively arrange the apple slices. (I cut my apples into Jenga-like blocks and go for a parquet floor motif.) Minimal gaps between them will ensure the tart sets correctly. Keep in mind that the tart will be flipped, so the bottom layer should be the most attractive. Continue layering until the apples reach the top of the skillet.
Return the skillet to a low heat and cook for another 20 minutes, making sure the syrup doesn't burn. Remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Shape the puff pastry into a 10 or 11 inch round and place over the apples. It should hang over the edge of the skillet just a little. With a sharp knife, cut 3 to 4 holes in the pastry.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the puff pastry is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and let cool 15 to 20 minutes. Place a serving plate over the pastry and—with courage of conviction—flip. Serve immediately.