Tarte tatin

I’ve already touched a little on this tarte tatin in my post on Danish pastry, which is used as the base of this otherwise traditional French apple and caramel tarte. If you don’t know, the story goes that this tarte was invented by accident, starting off as apples cooking for an apple pie being overdone, and rescued by putting the pastry base on top of the apples in the pan, baking in the oven and being turned out onto a plate. You want to use firm eating apples here, rather than cooking apples which will disintegrate into a puree as you cook them. I used Granny Smith, which I think work well here as its slightly acidic taste counters the sweet, buttery caramel somewhat.

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be a Domestic Goddess,  and the adapting, really, was just making this a little easier, for me, resulting in a slightly more ramshackle, homespun looking tarte. That is to say, the recipe calls for halved and cored apples, arranged fairly neatly, hump side down in the pan, and thus gleaming, hump side up in the plated tarte. I like to use my all in one apple-corer-and-wedger (and I’m not one, really, for single-application kitchen gadgets, but this is one labour-saver I’ll make an exception for) which divides each fruit into eight perfect segments and removes the core at the same time, so I ended up with apple slices, rather than halves. A quick internet search will show you that the popular way of presenting a tarte tatin made with sliced apples involves arranged the apple slices neatly in a spiral or concentric circles. This seems like far too much effort for the same end result, taste wise, and also, despite slightly enjoying the element of danger inherent in upturning the hot tatin, scalding caramel and all, onto a serving plate, arranging the slices individually in bubbling sugar is where I draw the line.

You will need a suitable dish in which to cook the tatin, one that you can use to make caramel and cook the apples on the hob, and then, once enrobed with pastry, use in the oven, of somewhere between 22 and 28 cm in diameter. I use a flame-safe shallow casserole, which is approximately 25cm across, or you could use a similarly proportioned frying pan with a handle that can go in the oven. You could, naturally, use a tarte tatin dish if you possess one.

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be a Domestic Goddess

100g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

Enough apples to cover the base of your pan in a single layer once sliced how you want them – as a guide, I used 6 medium-sized Granny Smiths

a half portion of this Danish pastry recipe, thawed if previously frozen

Preheat the oven to 200C and put a baking sheet in to heat up with the oven. On the hob, melt the butter in whatever dish you are using, and then add the sugar. When it starts foaming, carefully add the apples, pushing them around with a spatula to try and get them in a more or less single layer. Cook on a high heat until the butter-sugar sauce is a golden caramel colour, and the apples have softened. Take the pan off of the heat and leave the stand for 10 minutes.

While the apples are standing, roll out the pastry on a floured surface (and see the introduction of the Danish pastry post), quite thinly, into a circle large enough to fit the top of the dish with an overhang of a couple of centimetres. Transfer it to the dish, laying it on top of the apples and carefully tucking the edges down the sides of the apples. Place the dish onto the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, definitely checking at 20, until the pastry is golden brown and the caramel is bubbling.

Take the dish out of the oven, and do this next bit with care and definitely oven gloves: place a large plate on top of the dish, and turn the whole thing the other way up. Carefully put it down, and then remove the dish, leaving your tarte right way up on the plate. Place any apple pieces stuck to the dish back into the tarte, and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6.


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