FOR THE SUGAR DOUGH:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and kept very cold
1 generous cup confectioner's sugar
Pinch of granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
Extra flour for forming and rolling
FOR THE TARTE:
6 lbs. firm tart apples, medium size
1 lemon, cut in half
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, sliced into pats and chilled
Whipped cream for serving (optional)
Make the sugar dough at least two hours in advance. Place flour infood processor fitted with metal blade. Add butter cubes and pulse
briefly until they begin to incorporate into the flour. Add sugars
and salt; pulse briefly. Add eggs and run food processor until the
moment the dough clumps into a ball on one side of the blade. Do not
over-process or the butter will become too soft. Dough should be soft
and pliant, but not sticky. If it is, add a teaspoon or two of flour.
Place dough on a cutting board; divide in two equal parts, and gently
form each into a rough disk about 1-inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap
and chill in refrigerator for at least two hours, until disks become
firm. Extra dough can be frozen for up to two months.
Line range top and drip pans with aluminum foil.
For the tarte, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make sure you have enough
apples by placing them whole and unpeeled in the pan. You should have
enough to fill the pan, plus three or four extra -- you're better off
peeling more than you need. Peel and core apples. Slice them in half
vertically and rub with a cut lemon to retard browning.
Place sugar in pan, covering the bottom evenly. Cover completely with
slices of cold butter. Place over medium-high heat.
As butter and sugar begin to melt, arrange apples in concentric
circles on top of the sugar, standing them on their edge so that the
cored centers are horizontal. You should be able to get about two
rings in a 10-inch pan. They should be tightly packed, as they will
shrink during cooking.
Cook apples until a deep golden caramel begins to form, about 10
minutes on the first side, and 5 to 8 minutes on the second, turning
each apple gently with a two-pronged fork without removing it from
formation. When turning the apples, you may wish to add an extra
apple half to the center, where the fruit has shrunk and left space.
The caramelizing process will create a messy, frothy bubble that can
overflow the pan. That is normal. Beware if the pan gets too dry,
your caramel might be ready to burn.
Remove from heat and let apples cool slightly.
Remove dough from refrigerator and roll over a flour-dusted surface
into a circle slightly larger than the pan, turning the dough a
quarter-turn after every roll to assure an even circle. It should be
about a quarter-inch thick, or just less.
Gently roll the pastry onto the rolling pin, starting at the point
farthest from you and rolling it toward you. Carefully unroll the
dough over the pan so that it is completely covered, tucking the
excess dough down into the pan around the edges of the apples. Work
fast so that the dough is not softened by the heat of the apples.
Patch any holes in the crust with excess dough. Cut 6 quarter-inch
vents into the dough to allow steam to escape
Bake on bottom third of the oven until the pastry is crisp and golden
brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let tart cool in the pan for 5 to 10
minutes. Un-mold the tart by placing a large plate over pan and
flipping it over so the plate is on bottom, the pan on top. Remove
pan, but be careful because any juice that is left may splash.
If any apple sticks to the bottom of the pan, transfer it to the top
of the tart with a spatula. Serve warm, with whipped cream on the