Classic Tarte Tatin
This amazing, sensuous dessert was invented at the turn of the twentieth century by two elderly spinsters, the Tatin sisters - the world owes them a great deal! All the elements of pleasure are here: the dark caramel, the sweet and acid taste of the apple, the crisp pastry. Serve with the very best crème fraîche (full fat, please) or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Should you wish, you can cook the tart one day in advance, keep it in the tin and reheat it at 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2 for 20 minutes. However, the best way to eat it is an hour or so after cooking, when it is still warm.
|For the tart:|
|200g (7oz)||bought puff pastry, thawed if frozen|
|8||large Cox’s apples, peeled, halved and cored with a melon baller|
|10g (¼oz)||unsalted butter, melted|
|1 tbsp||caster sugar|
|For the caramel:|
|50ml (2fl oz)||water|
|100g (4oz)||caster sugar|
|25g (1oz)||unsalted butter|
You will need an 18cm (7in) round baking tin, 4–5cm (1½-2 in) deep.
Preparing the pastry:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to 2 mm (1/12 in) thick and prick it all over with a fork. Transfer to a baking tray, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to firm it up and prevent shrinkage whilst cooking. Cut out a 20 cm (8 in) circle, using a plate or cake tin as a template, prick with a fork and chill again.
Making the caramel:
Put the water in a small, heavy-based saucepan and scatter the sugar over it in an even layer. Let the sugar absorb the water for a few minutes, then place the pan on a medium heat and leave, without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and formed a syrup. Simmer until it turns to a golden brown caramel. Stir in the butter and immediately pour the caramel into an 18cm (7 in) round baking tin, 4–5cm (1½-2 in) deep.
Filling the tin with the apples:
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Arrange 12 apple halves upright around the edge of the tin to complete a full circle. In the middle sit half an apple, flat-side up, then top with another half apple. Cut the remaining apple into slices and wedge them into the empty spaces. You need to pack tight as many apple pieces as you can into the tin, so that you leave as little space as possible; this will give the perfect density and the perfect slice. Brush the melted butter over the apples and sprinkle the caster sugar over the top.
Baking the tart:
Place the tin in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, until the apples are partly cooked. Remove from the oven, place the puff pastry circle on top of the hot apples and tuck the edge of the pastry inside the tin. Cook for a further 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Place the tarte Tatin next to an open window, if possible, and leave for 1-2 hours, until barely warm.
Unmoulding the tart:
Slide the blade of a sharp knife full circle inside the tin to release the tarte Tatin. Place a large dinner plate over the tart and, holding both tin and plate together, turn it upside down, shaking it gently sideways to release the tart on to the plate.