Yes I can hear your thoughts: “Well I won’t be attempting that!”; “That’s not for us ordinary, home cooks”; “What the hell is that?”
This is a surprisingly simple dessert and will get the guests around your table raising their eyebrows because they had no idea that you were such an outstanding cook.
First to the history books. This dessert was said to have been created at the Hotel Tatin in the Loire Valley in France in 1898. The hotel was run by two sisters Caroline and Stephanie. Stephanie, who was having a particularly hectic day, left apples she was cooking for a pie on the heat for too long. The sugar had caramelised to almost burnt. Trying to rescue the dish she threw some pastry on top and put the whole pan in the oven. After turning it out she was surprised to find it was a hit with the guests. Its lasting fame is possibly due to Louis Vaudable making it a permanent addition to the menu at his restaurant Maxim’s of Paris.
I’ve tried making this tart with puff pastry and shortcrust and the result is equally as delicious so because I can easily and quickly make my own shortcrust pastry that’s what I tend to use.
Now to the shortcrust pastry, I have tried many versions but my favourite is Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry however I am usually in a screaming rush so never have the sour cream readily available. This is the basic recipe I often use.
- 2 cups plain flour
- 125gms chilled butter chopped into cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- Pinch salt
Place the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and process until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of chilled water and process until it just comes together. Turn out onto a board and knead lightly to bring the dough together. Press into a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes. When ready to use roll out to 5mm thick.
For the Tarte Tatin I generally use Pink Lady but any firm flesh apple will be fine. Use an ovenproof frying pan and roll out the dough to overhang the edges slightly.
- 4 apples peeled, cored and cut into quarters
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ cup castor sugar
- 30gms unsalted butter
Peel and core the apples cutting into quarters. Place in a non-reactive bowl with the lemon juice and a tablespoon of the sugar making sure the apples are coated. Place the remaining sugar with 2 tablespoons water into the frying pan over a low heat. Stir gently to dissolve the sugar. Turn heat to medium and allow sugar to bubble away. Here is where you need to be watching because it can go from perfect to burnt in seconds. If any dark spots begin to appear give the pan a gentle shake, DO NOT STIR or your caramel will crystalise. When the sugar is a rich caramel colour remove from the heat and add your apples cut side up and dot with butter. Return the pan to a low heat, continue to cook for 5 minutes so the apples begin to soften. Take your pastry and lay over apples tucking in around the edges. Put into the oven at 180°C until the pastry is golden, remove and stand for 10 minutes. Turn out on plate and serve with your favourite topping, I like double cream (my thighs don’t).
Go on, give it a go. Most of the ingredients should be in your pantry, and you’ll get to try a delicious dessert.