I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

miscellany: tarte tatin

Tarte tatin is one of those dishes with a legendary history. Several legendary histories, in fact, since the exact one is unknown. The popular story is that two sisters, the Desmoiselles Tatin, had a small restaurant in France in the 1880s, about 100 miles south of Paris. One day, either through forgetfulness or simply being out of time (depending on which version of the story you're hearing) one of the sisters made an apple tart for their guests. She caramelized the apples, then covered the top with pastry, baked the whole thing, and inverted it on the plate to serve it so that the top crust became the base. 

I like it because it's delicious, is pretty easy to make, and the story sounds like something I might have done - rushed for time or realizing something had been forgotten, so improvising on the fly to try to salvage it into something yummy.

It starts simply enough: butter and brown sugar in a skillet. I used equal parts, about 1/2 cup each. Mostly because I only had 1/2 cup of butter left (see what I mean about improvising?). This is heated in an ovenproof skillet until the mixture melts and bubbles.

Then, the apples! Peeled, cored and quartered. all jammed in to be nice and cozy. We used Gala apples. Grannysmiths are nice too. You want an apple that won't melt into oblivion during the cooking process, but hold its shape.

These bubble on low/med heat for 30-45 minutes, until the apples are soft.

Yummy bubbly caramelly goodness.
Pastry! A basic tart pastry, rolled out...
I love this French rolling pin. Took some getting used to but is now my favorite .

... and put over top of the apples, right in the frying pan, the extra edges folded over and tucked in. This is where the "ovenproof" part is vital. Because:

into the oven it goes. To bake for another 30 minutes or so, until the crust is golden.

While this baked, I whipped up cream (excellent arm workout, by the way) to soft peaks and added some vanilla and sugar.

And there it is, baked. Now the tricky part, and the one that always makes me a little tense: flipping it over. Not because I fear a culinary flop. The ingredients are so basic and simple, you can't go wrong there. No, I fear dropping the whole thing into a hot splatter of caramel and apples.

Inverted! And I survived!

And ready to serve. Soft, sweet (not too much so), and warm. Delicious. And that's tarte tatin.

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