I've got a 20-pound bag of perfect apples in my refrigerator (last day of pick-your-own apples in most PA orchards was Sunday) and so I have plans for a number of projects.
Tarte tatin is maybe my favorite apple-based dessert, so I'll definitely be making one (or four). Whenever I make it it comes out perfect but for one - sort of huge problem:
I make my tarte in a cast-iron pan in what I gather is the traditional manner (I use the recipe in the Larousse Gastronomique) - I cook the apples, butter and sugar on the stove top until they reach the golden-caramel stage, then put the crust on top, bake the tart, and then flip it.
The flip always kills me. Half the time I seem to flip too early: the pan is still hot, the caramel hasn't set, apples and caramel fly everywhere and I end up with a messy (but tasty) pile of tarte-parts. The other half the time I flip too late: the apples and caramel stick to the pan in chunks, I get a deforested crust with a few pieces of apple and I have to pry most of the tart out of the pan (so the end result is the same - a tasty, ugly pile of stuff).
I can't seem to find a happy medium - as soon as the caramel is cool enough to hold things together, it's too cool to get the tart out of the pan.
Does anyone have any advice for me? Do I need to pack my apples tighter? Am I overcooking my caramel? Is cast iron no good (do I have to shell out for a special tarte-tatin-pan, which seems absurd)?