If you find yourself strapped for time or energy use bought, frozen puff pastry instead of the pastry dough.
Serves 6 to 8
For the pastry dough:
• 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 2 tablespoons water
• 1 stick unsalted butter
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
• 5 Winesap or Gala apples
• Kosher salt
• whipped cream
Make the dough:
Work together the flour, butter, sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt with your hands until mostly combined with some small lumps of butter remaining. Stir in the water with a fork. Press a small handful of dough together: if it looks powdery and does not come together, stir in the additional tablespoon of water. Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the edge of plastic, fold dough over on itself, pressing until it comes together. Form the dough into a disk, wrapped completely in the plastic and chill for one hour.
Prepare the filling:
While the dough chills, heat one cup of the sugar with the water in a 10 to 12-inch, well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and bubbling. Cook the caramel, swirling the skillet occasionally, until the sugar is a dark amber caramel. Remove skillet from heat and add the butter, carefully swirling the skillet to incorporate the butter into the caramel. Let the skillet (with the caramel) cool at room temperature.
Whisk together the remaining half cup of sugar, the zest, juice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a quarter teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Peel and core the apples, then halve them and toss with the sugar mixture.
Assemble the tart:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out the pastry dough on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Place the apples, cut side up, over the caramel in the skillet, then drizzle with any remaining sugar mixture. Top the apples with the dough, tucking the edges of dough down around the apples. Cut six to eight steam vents in the dough.
Bake the tart until the crust is golden, the filling is bubbling. This will take about 45 minutes.
Let the tart cool in the skillet until it's just warm. Place a serving plate over the skillet, then carefully invert tart onto the serving plate.
To read Ian Knauer's account of creating this dangerous dessert, click here for the story.