Classic Tart Tatin with Velvety Crème Anglaise
I’m known as the Queen of Tart Tatins….even if I have to say so myself!
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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Then last but not least the pastry has to be cooked! A crisp and flaky pastry is a absolute must.
This recipe is dedicated to a two friends Alex and Dominique as they encouraged me to do a tatin masterclass at work. It was three years ago….wow time flies! Dom now lives in Malaysia and I’m wondering if she’s still making tart tatins? 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 Satin.
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. I developed a recipe which achieved very similar results without having to make caramel at all. I used dark muscovado sugar instead of normal white sugar as in my plum tart tatin recipe.Unfortunately you do not get a very high glossy caramel but the colour and taste are definitely there. The plum tart tatin method is perfect for a party as you can prepare everything in advance and only pop them in the oven when needed.
I do think that the pan plays a very important role in making the perfect tart tatin and for that reason I like to use my 16cm flared copper saute pan. If you do not have a copper pan I recommend any heavy based pan and you can make the tatin any size you want. Use equal amounts of butter to sugar to cover the base of the pan, this will not only provide the caramel, colour and taste but also the sauce and I think the prefect tatin needs to be fairly saucy. Cut the pastry at least a 1 -2 cm bigger than the pans’ rim, the reason for that is that the pastry will naturally shrink and as the steam pushes the pastry up in the middle it will pull away from the sides. I always push the pastry in at the sides as it miraculously reverts itself during the cooking process and forms a ‘bucket/ bowl’ covering the fruits. If the pastry is too small the fruits will fall off once turned over. I have used my home made rough puff pastry as it’s way better than any shop bought puff pastry, it’s your choice.
This 16 inch pan serves four providing you pack the apples in, I like a decent ratio of fruit to pastry. I have chosen the pretty small Speckled Beauty apples,and used them whole. I have packed them in tightly and as the caramel was cooking on the cooker I gently pushed a extra apple in as the other ones shrunk, this way I get the fruits packed in tightly. Other apple varieties that I like for a tart tatin ares Coxes as they are sharp and hold their shape and the same goes for Pink Ladies. However as they are not British and not grown here I do not use them as I have a preference for English apples. Brogdale farm is doing a lot of very important work to protect our heritage and old apple varieties, these Speckled Beauties came from Brogdale. Other fruits also well suited for making a tasty tart tatin are pears, pineapple, firm apricots and plums.
Take extra care when you turn the tatin over. Let the cooked tatin rest for 5 – 8 minutes, place a plate slightly bigger than the pan on top and then with one fast movement, with our one hand on the bottom of the plate and the other holding the pan with a firm grip and cloth turn the tatin over, do not hesitate as the caramel will run out and the chances are that you will burn yourself. Be careful!!! Do not leave the tatin to cool completely in the pan as the caramel will solidify as it cools and it will get struck in the pan. If it has cooled then heat it gently on the cooker before you attempt to turn it out.
Serve the classic tatin with a lovely velvety freshly made crème anglaise or vanilla ice cream. As I used these whole baby apples I thought it wold be a novelty to pour the crème anglaise into the little holes.
Apple Tart Tatin
- 150g home made rough puff pastry
- 50g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 50g caster sugar
- 5/6 apples, such as coxes or whole baby speckled beauties
- 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.
In a 16cm flared copper saucepan press the butter and vanilla seeds to cover the base, sprinkle with sugar and shake to evenly distribute the sugar, set aside.
Peel and core the apples and cut them in half or like in this instance I used the whole baby 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, make sure that you have one or two pieces of apple spare to insert later, or in this case I kept one whole apple aside.
Place the saucepan over low heat and caramelise until it becomes dark all round, now carefully add the remaining apple as the cooked ones have shrunk, push it in very carefully as the hot caramel will spit.
Place the saucepan on a pot rest and place the puff pastry on top. Press the pastry in by the sides of the apple.
Place the saucepan on an oven tray in the preheated oven and bake for 30 - 35minutes. If your pastry is very thick it will require a longer cooking time, I do recommend that you do not roll your pastry too thick as it becomes heavy and the balance of pastry vs fruits is not quite right.
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.
Serve with the crème anglaise.
This is the Thermomix method for making crème anglaise, I love it as you have less things to wash and most importantly you do not have to watch and stir it all the time, the machine does that for you. My recipes and cooking times are always for fridge cold ingredients such as milk and eggs, if you are using room temperature ingredients please reduce the cooking time!
- 250ml milk
- 60g egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- ½ vanilla pod, seeds only, optional (keep the pod to make vanilla sugar)
Use the built in scales and weigh all the ingredients directly into the thermomix bowl.
Set the timer for 10 minutes at 80°C, speed 4.
Turn the speed dial gradually to 10 and blend for 10 seconds.
Serve with the freshly baked tart tatin.
Food Fanatics Tip
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!