A classic French apple tart from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook.
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 lb. apples, peeled, cored, and quartered*
1 sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry (from a 14 oz. package), thawed
* Choose a firm apple that stands up to baking without collapsing, such as Braeburn, Cortland, Golden Delicious, or a combination.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Step 2: In a heavy-bottom 10" ovenproof or cast-iron skillet, stir together the 3/4 cup sugar and the vinegar. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the skillet (save the vanilla bean for another use). Heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is amber in colour (like a brown paper bag). Remove from the heat. Add 2 tbsp of the butter and the vanilla and swirl until the butter has melted. Let cool for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Carefully arrange the apples over the sugar mixture in concentric circles, being careful not to touch the hot sugar mixture. Dot with the remaining 2 tbsp butter.
Step 4: Place the puff pastry over the apples and tuck the sides down around the apples. Sprinkle the 1 tbsp sugar over the dough. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and crisp and the pan juices are bubbling. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto a rimmed cake plate to serve.
Makes 1 tart.
Reprinted with permission from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook (2013 Rodale).