OK, so I know I came back from the holidays with all sorts of good and very good resolutions about eating well and exercising, and keeping on good form for this busy autumn …. but now and again, well you know, just sometimes, there has to be an exception!
So when we invited friends around to dinner over the weekend, a glance at the garden, and the apple trees laden with fruit brought me to a quick decision – a tarte Tatin, or a French upside down apple tart would be on the menu.
This has to be one of the most traditional French desserts, and oh, so easy to make, especially if you have an old pan that lost its handle years ago like I do.
To make a tarte tatin for 6-8 people, you will need a portion of good quality short or sweet pastry, about 8 apples, some butter and sugar, and a heavy duty pan that can be used first over the heat and then in the oven.
First pre-heat your oven to 180°C, or 350°F or gas mark 4. melt three large knobs of butter (about one third of a cup, or 80 grams) in the pan, and sprinkle half a cup, or 100 grams of sugar all over. Turn off the heat.
Peel, core and halve the apples, until you have enough to lay them overlapping, and cover the base of the pan. Gently turn up the heat, but not too high. You want the butter and sugar to melt and start to caramelise .
Don’t have the heat too high, otherwise your caramel will get too dark and bitter. At this stage I use two forks to turn each piece of apple gently every few minutes, so that all of the fruit has soaked in the caramel. Bear in mind that the tart will be served upside-down, so you want the most presentable side of the fruit facing the base of the pan.
While the fruit is cooking, roll out the pastry to the right diameter so it will slightly overlap the edges of the pan. When the fruit is evenly cooked and the caramel a golden brown, then simply lay the rolled-out pastry over the top of the fruit and pop into the oven until the pastry is cooked.
Once you remove the pan from the oven, I find it is best to wait about 5 minutes, then turn the tart upside down onto a shallow serving platter. This tart is best served just warm, possibly with a little ice cream, although I prefer mine without.
The variety of apple can make a big difference to the flavour of this tart, ideally you want a sweet apple with plenty of natural perfume. Hope you enjoy!
first picture thanks to google images