I hope people are still interested in this topic! Anyway, I read through this whole thread a few weeks ago when my dad requested I make "one of those french apple tarts with the puffy crusts." I figured out that this was what he meant and set about to trying to find the best way to do it.
So I will probably never be able to do anything "perfectly" but to have a little fun I decided to test out four different apples in four miniature tarte tatins. Pictures follow.
I started with this "puff paste" recipe from my 1946 version of the joy of cooking, chosen just for fun. By the way, does anyone know the derivation of puff paste-->pastry?
Sadly I am pretty ill-equipped (as we will see later on as well) and I had to use this bottle of mixer covered in plastic wrap as a rolling pin. How typical of a college student.
The recipe actually had an interesting technique where one kneads the butter underneath cold running tap water. I can only postulate as to what the purpose of this was, incorporation of water? Making the butter more malleable while keeping it cold?
I bought four different apples at Whole Foods
, from left to right: Braeburn, Jonagold, Winesap, Ambrosia.
I prepped them in the way suggested upthread by culinary bear
I made caramel in a large pan and tried to distribute it equally among the pans. These were the only things I could find that fit the criteria of: small, roughly the same size, and bakeable. Again, left to right: Braeburn, Jonagold, Winesap, Ambrosia.
I put them in one by one, once I had laid the puff pastry on top, so you can see the slightly different states of the puff pastry. I actually got really excited by this and took a little bit of a photo montage:
I'd love to see some stop-motion photography of this. Man I'm such a nerd.
Anyway, moving along they all came out eventually with only minor readjustments correcting absconding apple slices.
WARNING: bad lighting ahead, terribly sorry.
Among the taste-testers (about 7), the Winesap was most popular because of how the apple's structure held up, it seemed to have a finer structure than the others, it was had a more subtle, fruity flavor. The runner-up was Braeburn, it held up in the same way as the Winesap, but lacked the flavor nuances. nothing much to say about the Jonagold except that it was a pretty boring apple. The Ambrosia smelled and tasted great raw, but as its juicy nature belied, it broke down under pressure (or is that heat?) and was way too mushy and a little too sweet for this presentation. It was also interesting to see that the Winesap oxidized immediately while the other apples took a little while.
I definitely enjoyed collecting opinions and noting the differences between these varietes when raw and when cooked. I hope this report helps somebody make their decisions about how to make their own tarte tatin, because there certainly are a lot of opinions on the best way to do it!
**edited for consistency**
Edited by Underfoot, 04 December 2007 - 01:55 AM.