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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin is classic French cuisine at its very best and, when served warm with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, my favourite dessert.
The key to the perfect Tarte Tatin is the reduction of the caramel and the choice of apple. The apples should be dessert apples such as Cox or Golden Delicious and must be large, firm and crisp; the caramel should be reduced to a rich, syrupy, golden brown before the tarte goes into the oven. It may take you two or three attempts before you get your caramel and your tart just right but it's well worth the effort.
This recipe is taken from Rick Stein's excellent "French Odyssey".

Tarte Tatin

250g puff pastry (buy sheets but make sure the pastry is wide enough to cover your tart pan).
75g softened butter
175g caster sugar
5 large, firm dessert apples (not cooking apples like Granny Smiths as they tend to turn to mush quite quickly)

The pan pictured is a 20cm cast iron Le Creuset skillet and is perfect for this dish. If you don't have one then use any non-stick cast iron frying pan but of course it must be able to go from the stove top into the oven. You can also buy purpose made tarte tatin dishes.
Roll out your puff pastry and cut a circle of pastry around 4cm larger in diameter than your pan. Chill for 30 minutes (the pastry, not you, get back to work).
Spread the softened butter over the base of your pan and then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top.
Peel, core and quarter (or halve) your apples then pack them neatly into your pan as pictured below.

Place your pan over a medium heat and cook, shaking the pan every now and again, until the butter and sugar have mixed with the apple juices to produce a rich toffee coloured sauce and the apples are just tender. This should take 30-40 minutes. Take care not to take the sauce too far, it is better under done than over and if it burns even a little you should start again or just cry and eat the ice cream on its own.
Preheat your oven to 190C. Lift the pastry on top of the apples and tuck the edges down inside the pan. Prick the pastry five or six times with a sharp knife or fork, transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is puffed up, crisp and golden.
Remove the tart from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes. Once rested, run a knife around the edge of the tart to free any stuck pastry and then invert it onto a flat round serving plate. Serve warm or cold with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream. Magnifique!


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