October 25, 2011

THE PERFECT TARTE TATIN

We love tarte tatin and it is one of our favourite desserts to order when we are in France.  You don’t see it on menus in England quite so often.

For the last couple of years I have tried a number of recipes to make it at home.  Each time I made a tarte tatin, it would taste nice enough and looked reasonable but somehow it never quite came up to scratch.  Now I think I have found the perfect recipe.  It comes from Raymond Blanc’s “Kitchen Secrets” and you can find it here.

When I spotted that Ruth of The Pink Whisk was having an October Challenge for a recipe using Pink Lady apples,  I decided this was a perfect opportunity to bake another one !!

The Pink Whisk Challenge

Of course you can’t beat having the right equipment for any recipe and we had much greater success once we found this tarte tatin dish in John Lewis.  It has gone up in price by £1 since I bought mine but it’s still a great piece of kit for only £13.

tatin 1a

The dish is about the size of a sponge tin but is made of heavy aluminium that is happy on top of the stove as well as in the oven (but not in the dishwasher).  Traditionally the tatin is made in a skillet but somehow I never managed to find one of those.

tatin 1tatin 2

You begin by caramelising the sugar and water on the hob.  When it is pale golden you add cubes of chilled butter, which stops it becoming too caramelised.  I really dislike tarte tatin where the caramel has become too dark and bitter.

tatin 4tatin 3

You peel and core the apples ~ I use my melon baller to remove the cores neatly.  Cut them into quarters and place them round side down in the caramel, cramming as many in as possible and filling any gaps with small pieces.

tatin 8

You brush the apples with more melted butter and bake in the oven until the apples are cooked.

tatin 10tatin 9

Press the apples down and place a circle of puff pasty over the top, tucking in the edges.  Don’t forget that the tin is hot and be careful not to burn your fingers when tucking the pastry in.

The ready-made, ready-rolled puff pastry you can buy in France works extremely well for this dish.  You have to trim it a little so there is not too much overhang, otherwise the tucked-in portion makes the base too bulky.  I always buy a few packs of it when we are in France and store it in my freezer.

tatin 11tatin 12

Prick the pastry and bake again until it is nicely browned.  Leave it to stand for a while before turning out ~ always the scary part.  I usually let my other half do that ~ he seems to enjoy it ~ must be a man thing.

tatin 14tatin 15

If the tarte has cooled completely you can reheat it gently on the hob.  This will melt the caramel enough to soften it to enable you to turn it out.  Alternatively, you can make the dish the day before and reheat in the oven.

tatin 16tatin 17

Inevitably there will be a few pieces of apple that stay stuck to the dish.  Just pick them out carefully and replace them in their rightful positions in the tarte ~ nobody will know !!

tatin 19

tatin 20

Et voilà !!  The perfect tarte tatin !!

This is what I used.

6 dessert apples

3tblsp water

100g caster sugar

60g unsalted butter, diced and chilled in the fridge or freezer

30g unsalted butter, melted

1 pack of ready-made/ ready-rolled puff pastry

This is what you do.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C.

Peel the apples, cut them in half, remove the cores, then cut them into quarters.  (Raymond suggests keeping the apples in halves and slicing the round bottoms off so they sit flat in the tin, but I found I could cram more in if I quartered them.)

Put the water in the tatin dish and add the sugar.  Leave it for a couple of minutes for the sugar to be absorbed then put on a medium heat on the hob.  Heat gently without stirring until a pale golden colour appears.  Remove from the heat and add the chilled cubes of butter – this stops the cooking and prevents the caramel from becoming too dark and too strongly flavoured.

Arrange the apple pieces, rounded sides down, in the dish, using small pieces to fill any gaps.  Pack them in tightly and press down.  Brush the melted butter over the apples and then bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the tin from the oven.  Place your circle of rolled out puff pastry on the top and tuck the edges in. Be careful because it’s easy to forget that the tin is very hot and burn your fingers when tucking in!  Prick a few holes in the pastry and bake again for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the tatin from the oven and allow to cool slightly before turning out carefully onto a serving plate.  Serve warm or cool with cream or ice-cream.

Serves 6

4 comments:

  1. Purple titles are much better - thank you. I really ought to make this one day...I have several Reine de Reinette trees and I think that's the variety the sainted Raymond uses (I'm a huge fan of RB by the way). My friend Jill spent a week or so last year making different tarte tatin recipes. I can't remember which one she favoured in the end though.

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    1. Susan, we liked this recipe because it took all the guesswork out of how dark and intense the caramel would turn out and it just works.

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  2. Gosh, you are going for new looks, aren't you, Jean? :-) Very smart. I know exactly why you are reposting all these scrumptious recipes, but I do wish you wouldn't until Lent is finished. Talk about temptation....

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    1. Perpetua, you can always save the recipes for a big splurge after Easter !!

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