Monday, 1 August 2011

Traditional Recipes: Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin is simple, classic French dessert of apples and pastry. It is said to have originated when the Tatin sisters were making an apple tart and overcooked it. They managed to save what they could, resulting in a dessert as close to perfection as you can get. 

Unexpectedly, there are many variations. Some recipes call for the apples to be sliced and neatly layered in a spiraling fashion; some state to peel the apples while other say not to; and some specify the use of cinnamon and cloves, where others simply add vanilla. 

My personal preference is to keep the dish as simple as possible. Letting the tartness and softness of the apples play against the crispiness of the pastry and sweetness of the sticky caramel.

Tarte Tatin
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Jamie Does...

6-8 small apples
1 sheet JusRol puff pastry
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
70g butter, cubed

Preheat oven Gas 4 (180C/350F)

Roll out the puff pastry sheet and use an ovenproof frying pan to cut out a circle, giving it an extra 2cm around the edge.

On a low heat, sprinkle most of the sugar (reserving a tablespoon of it) evenly as possible in the pan with 3 tablespoons of water and the vanilla extract. Let the sugar caramelise and resist the urge to stir or shake the pan. When it starts to turn a light caramel colour add the butter.

Meanwhile, halve the apples and scoop out the core and seeds. When the caramel has turned a slightly darker brown, arrange the apples in the pan. Be careful, the caramel will be very hot. 

Carefully drape the pastry over the apples, letting it fall into the gaps. Sprinkle the reserved sugar over the top and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden-brown.

Let the tarte cool down for 5 minutes the turn it out on to a plate. This is done by placing a plate over the top and, holding it firmly, flipping the plate and pan upside down together.

Ideally, the tarte tatin is served with ice cream or alternatively  serve with cream or custard.

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