This can be an intimidating recipe, but it is actually not too difficult and it tastes fantastic. It also looks pretty impressive. The one thing to be careful about is the heat of your stove and oven -- I am still not used to ours, so the cooking times were different than in the recipe and the top got a little burned. This is one of my favorite desserts, and definitely worth all of the effort. I took the recipe from epicurious.com (one of my favorite websites, it compiles all of the recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appétit Magazines), but made some adaptations, so my notes are in italics.
SOUR CREAM PASTRY
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 6 tablespoons chilled sour cream (I used the same amount of Greek yogurt, to the same effect)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 11 medium-size Pippin apples (about 4 3/4 pounds), peeled, quartered, cored
- 1 egg, beaten to blend (glaze)
Blend flour, sugar and salt in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add butter and beat at medium-low speed until butter is size of small lima beans, about 3 minutes. (If you don't have a mixer, like us, you can also whisk vigourously, which works pretty well) Add sour cream and beat until moist clumps form, about 1 minute. Gather dough into smooth ball; flatten into 6-inch-diameter disk. Wrap dough in plastic; refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let soften slightly before rolling out.)
Spread butter over bottom of 12-inch-diameter ovenproof nonstick skillet with sloping sides (skillet should be at least 1 3/4 inches deep). Reserve 2 tablespoons sugar; sprinkle remaining sugar over butter. Place skillet over medium-low heat and cook until butter melts, sugar begins to dissolve and mixture starts to bubble, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat. Arrange apples on their sides around edge of skillet, placing tightly together. Arrange as many of remaining apples as will fit, pointed ends up, in 2 circles in center of skillet. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Set skillet over medium-high heat; boil until thick peanut butter-color syrup forms, repositioning skillet often for even cooking and adding remaining apples as space permits, about 45 minutes (syrup will continue to darken during baking). Remove from heat; wrap handle several times with heavy-duty foil. (This step only took about 30 minutes for me, so watch it closely)
Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425 °F.
Roll out pastry on floured surface to 12-inch round; place over apples. Cut four 2-inch slits in top of pastry. Press pastry down around apples at edge of skillet; brush pastry with some of egg glaze.
Bake tart until pastry is deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. (Again, I left it in for about 25 minutes) Transfer to work surface; cool 1 minute. Cut around edge of skillet to loosen pastry. Place large platter over skillet. Using oven mitts as aid, hold skillet and platter together tightly and invert, allowing tart to fall onto platter. Carefully lift off skillet. Rearrange any apples that may have become dislodged. Cool tart 30 minutes.
Cut warm tart into wedges. Serve with crème fraîche.
Hooray! Also, thanks to my roommate Hilary for the pictures. Beautiful.