6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
8 to 10 (about 5 pounds) Golden Delicious or similar apples, peeled, cored and halved
Prepared Pate Brisee (recipe follows)
Creme fraiche or crema Mexicana, for serving
In a copper tarte Tatin pan or cast-iron skillet, mix the butter into the sugar with your fingers. Spread it out in an even layer over pan. Starting at outside, place the apple halves standing up in butter-sugar mixture, each fitting into next as if they were spooning. Fit as many halves as you can into center. And don't worry about apples being taller than pan; they'll shrink down as they cook.
Place pan or skillet on a burner turned to high and cook until butter-sugar mixture bubbles up between apples and turns a medium amber. This can take 15 to 25 minutes. Don't be afraid. The only mistake is keeping flame too low so juice exudes from apples before sugar is caramelized. As bottom of apples soften, press down with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Heat oven to 400 F. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool slightly while you roll out the pastry dough.
On a floured board, roll out pastry to about 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place on top of caramelized apples, trimming so there's just an inch or so as border. Tuck border in around apples.
Place pan on oven's middle rack and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until pastry is set and browned.
Cool tart in pan. Just before serving, warm tart on stovetop. Place a serving plate on top and invert tart onto plate. Serve in wedges with a big dollop of the creme fraiche or crema Mexicana. (If using crema Mexicana, add a pinch of sugar to counterbalance its tartness.)
Makes 1 (9-inch) tart.
PATE BRISEE: In a bowl, combine 1 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Cut 6 tablespoons chilled butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut butter into flour until butter is size of peas. Sprinkle over 3 tablespoons ice water, a tablespoon at a time, fluffing with a fork, until dough sticks together when you try to form a ball. If dough still seems dry, add ice water a drop at a time to reach desired consistency. Form into a flat disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least a half hour.