I’m looking for perfection when it comes to this classic dish and these are the three things I’m looking for in a prefect tart tatin:
- I’m looking for the perfect fruit with a firm texture but a sharp taste; a fruit that can stand the heat in the caramel without collapsing, disintegrating or losing it’s taste.
- A deep rich and perfect caramel. A light coloured caramel does not do it for me as it does not deliver on taste nor looks.
- Then last but not least the pastry has to be cooked! A crisp and flaky pastry is a absolute must.
I love the history and origin of the Tatin. There are a few conflicting versions of the story but the accepted one is that it was a discovered by accident. In 1898 one of the two Tatin Sisters working in a hotel in France had burnt the apples for a classic apple tart, to save the apples she placed pastry on top and popped the whole thing in the oven. She served the dish and a new recipe was born! I’m so pleased that this happened, as I absolutely adore a proper tart tatin.
Caramel is a nasty beast and you must know what you are doing and you must treat it with the utmost respect as I have seen some nasty burns and injuries in my time caused by hot caramel. So I must urge you to take extra care.
Ingredients & Method
- 150g good quality all butter puff pastry
- 50g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 50g caster sugar
- 5/6 small apples, such as coxes
- ½ vanilla pod, seeds only, optional
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
PLEASE TAKE EXTRA CARE WITH HOT CARAMEL!
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface 3 – 4mm thick and cut one disk 1 – 2 cm bigger than the diameter of the saucepan, place in the fridge to rest whilst caramelising the apples.
In a 16cm flared copper saucepan spread the butter and vanilla seeds to cover the base, scatter the sugar and shake to evenly distribute the sugar.
Peel and core the apples, arrange the apples in the saucepan with the narrowest side of the apple to the bottom and the wider side up, make them stand up, if the last apple in the centre does not quite fit at this stage, do not worry as the apples cook it will shrink and the apple will fit snug soon.
Place the saucepan over low heat and caramelise until it becomes dark all round, this takes about 10 minutes.
Place the saucepan on a pot rest and place the puff pastry on top. Press the pastry in by the sides of the apple, take care not to burn.
Place the saucepan on an oven tray in the preheated oven and bake for 30 – 35minutes.
Let the tart tatin rest for 5- 8 minutes, then place a plate on top and quickly turn the pan upside down to turn the tart tatin out, take care with the hot caramel.
My all time favourite chef’s cheat substitute for making the caramel is as follows: place equal quantities of soft butter and dark Muscavado sugar in a food processor and whip until light and fluffy, spread the sugar butter in the bottom of the chosen baking tray, arrange the fruits on top followed by the pastry, bake for 30 – 35 minutes at 200°C, turn the tart tatin out and enjoy!