To celebrate moving into our new place I made a good old-fashioned dessert that’s so delicious and really simple to make. One of the celebrity contestants from Masterchef and Jamie Oliver in his new series made tarte tatin and two appearances close together can’t be a coincidence right? That and the abundance of apples that dropped from our apple tree in the front garden courtesy of a broken branch just begged for an apple tart to be made. I know, I can’t believe I’m even saying ‘our apple tree’. And a lovely garden with a patio! And a fireplace in the living room!
We had a bit of trouble figuring out how to switch on the oven. It’s one of those gas powered ones and our estate agent very kindly helped us figure it out while dropping off some papers. Who knew you had to keep pressing on the starter button while turning the oven knob and pressing it inwards at the same time, then keeping it pressed down for a period of time? Give me electric anytime.
The story goes that one of two Tatin sisters in 19th century France who was particularly overworked in the kitchen one day started making a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking on the stove too long. So she just placed a piece of pastry over it and baked it in the oven in an effort to rescue it. Et voila! A classic is born.
I’m not sure what variety of apples we have but they seem quite crunchy and tangy and they worked really well in the tart. This recipe is modified from Heston Blumenthal’s on BBC Food.
100g caster sugar
5-6 apples (Cox or Braeburn as recommended by Heston, or own apple tree apples as recommended by me)
1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
Cream or ice-cream to serve with
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
2. Peel, core and cut the apples into large wedges. 3 wedges per apple half are a good size.
3. Set a medium sized frying pan on a medium heat and melt the butter. Pour the sugar in and leave it to caramelise. Don’t stir it or it won’t form a caramel, but shaking the pan a little is allowed so the sugar browns evenly.
4. While it does that, unroll the puff pastry and cut it into a circle a couple of inches larger than the diameter of the top of the frying pan. It doesn’t really matter how much larger it is, the extra bits of pastry can be folded inward. As long as it’s not smaller than the pan it’s fine.
4. Once the caramel goes a lovely shade of brown, add in the apples and stir them around for 3-4 minutes until they soften slightly.
5. Now arrange the apples around the base of the pan with the inner surfaces pointing upwards, curved outer surfaces downwards. Make sure to pack them close together, leaving no gaps.
6. Place the puff pastry circle over the pan and gently press down over the apples to get rid of any air. Fold any extra pastry edges inwards.
7. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Once the puff pastry has browned and risen to its layered glory, remove from the oven.
8. The tart needs to be removed before it cools down otherwise it sticks to the pan. Cover the pan with an upturned plate that is larger than the pan. Keep the plate pressed down on the pan and in one swift and expert movement, turn the pan upside down and the tart should come out. Keep your fingers crossed and give it a little shake if it doesn’t at first.
9. Serve a slice (or two in our case as the boyfriend and I couldn’t resist seconds) with cream or ice-cream. A little sprinkling of cinnamon on top won’t hurt as well.
So, it’s really simple to make and all it requires is four ingredients. Plus, it’s really gratifying when you get compliments such as ‘it’s better than any bought dessert I’ve ever had!’. Then all you have to do is just beam with pride and soak it all in.