Granulated sugar 200g / 1 cup
Unsalted butter, cut into thin slices 150g / 5oz
Vanilla extract 25g / 2 TBSP
Salt 1g / 1/4 tsp
Granny Smith or Fuji apples 1.75kg / 4 lbs (Yield 1-1.2kg / 2.5-3lbs after peel, quarter and core)
Puff pastry, rolled to 1.75-2mm, docked and cut in a 9.5-inch circle
8 dollops of crème fraiche OR ice cream
NOTE: Substitute apples for other fruits such as pears or peaches.
Spread sugar evenly in the bottom of a 9-inch cast-iron skillet.
Evenly cover sugar with butter slices, and then drizzle vanilla extract and sprinkle salt over butter.
Arrange apple quarters on their sides in the skillet in 2 concentric circles with all apples facing the same direction. Pack apples very closely together and as tightly as possible. Cut remaining pieces of apple to completely fill all empty spaces and gaps.
Set the skillet over moderately low heat and cook apples until the surrounding syrup becomes thick and golden brown, 45 to 60 minutes. Place a ½ sheet pan over apples so to keep them from rising-up over the caramel. The liquid should remain at a gentle bubble. Make sure the liquid does not spill over.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Set skillet on a baking sheet and bake the apples for 20-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, then set the circle of puff pastry on top of the apples and carefully push the edge of the pastry down the pan. Return skillet to oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.
Remove the tart from the oven. Allow to rest for about 3-5 minutes, and then place a platter with a lip over skillet. Quickly and carefully invert the tart onto the platter so the apples are on top.
Serve warm or at room temperature with dollops of crème fraîche OR ice cream.