When I was asked to create a recipe using Organic Washington apples, I immediately said yes. I have a soft spot for these apples, and this part of the world, after all. Way, way back when this blog was just a baby, I was invited to go visit some organic fruit orchards in the Wenatchee area, and I had the absolute best time. The United States is the leading organic apple producer in the world, with Washington State growing more than 90% of U.S. certified organic apples. Washington state is known for being one of the premier apple-growing regions in the world, thanks to advantageous growing conditions. The apple trees grow in nutrient-rich, volcanic soil, perfect for growing fruit. The dry climate and ideal temperatures reduce the number of diseases and pest issues that can wreak havoc on the fruit. Plus, plentiful water and advanced growing practices provide the right ingredients for growing top-quality fruit. I still remember seeing orchards hugging the Washington hillsides, as far as the eye can see. It’s a beautiful thing to witness, and one day I hope to visit the area again.
Legend has it that in 1898, one of the Tatin sisters who owned a hotel in France left apples cooking too long on the stove. They were ruined for pie, but she covered them in pastry anyway, baked them even longer and then turned the whole concoction upside down for a tart. Customers were overjoyed by this “mistake,” and the rest is history. You’ll need to plan a day or two ahead for this, as the apples work best if you peel them and let them dry out in the refrigerator. You’ll also need a 10-inch cast iron skillet for the recipe. With just a few ingredients involved, the real measure of this dessert is in the technique. You’ve got this, but you must be brave! Flipping hot, caramelized apples upside down requires a bit of gumption, but the end result will be worth it.
The apples are completely soaked with butter and caramel, rendering them almost toffee-like. The pastry base lends a bit of crunch, which complements the tender fruit. Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream - as it pools with the caramel of the apples and you’ll want to use your fork to scrape up every last bit from your plate.
For more delicious Organic Washington apple recipes, you can find them here.
10 Organic Washington Gala, Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples, or a combination
1/3 cup salted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
8 oz (1/2 pkg) pre-rolled frozen puff pastry,
thawed in the refrigerator
1. Peel, core and quarter the apples. Place them, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 24–48 hours to dry out. Don’t worry about the apples browning—this will help them not get too juicy when they bake.
2. Spread the butter on the bottom and sides of a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet with sides at least 21/2 inches high. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the butter on the bottom of the skillet. Arrange the apple slices in a flat, concentric circle, squishing them in and completely filling the skillet. Pack them in tightly—they’ll shrink as they cook. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the rack in the centre of the oven.
4. When the apples start releasing their juices around the 20-minute mark, begin basting them
with the juices for the remaining 10 minutes. They should be a light caramel colour at this point.
If they’re caramelizing too much, turn down the heat. Place the skillet in the oven, bake for 10
minutes, and then increase the heat to 425°F while the tart is inside and bake for 5 more minutes.
5. Meanwhile, remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator and cut it into an 11-inch diameter circle. Remove the tart from the oven and carefully place the pastry on top of the apples, tucking it under the outer ring of apples. Bake for 18–20 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Take a deep breath. Using oven mitts, place a large serving platter on top of the skillet and quickly flip the tart onto the platter. Let it hang out here, with the skillet sitting on top, for 1 minute before removing the skillet. If any apples remain in the skillet, pick them off with a fork and place them back in the tart.
6. Serve the tarte tatin warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Any remaining slices can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Makes 6 servings..
Be sure to use a serving platter larger than the skillet when flipping the tart over.
Cold leftovers are delicious the next day for breakfast.