This recipe comes from the January 1996 issue of Cooks Illustrated. I tried it for the first time when we were living in Uzbekistan about a decade ago, and it has never failed to impress. The trick is to start by caramelizing the apples in sugar and butter in an oven-proof skillet on the stove, with slices arranged in a circle. Then cover the entire pan with an egg pastry that contains confectioners’ sugar rather than granulated sugar, which can make the dough grainy.
Cooks Illustrated prides itself on testing and re-testing their recipes until they find the perfect ingredients and preparation method. However, every time I have made this tarte, I have managed with half the amount of apples called for in the recipe, each cut into six wedges rather than four. Perhaps if I followed the recipe precisely, I could fit more fruit into the pan. But I’m afraid that the apples wouldn’t fully cook. Try it for yourself and let me know how it turns out.