You may have noticed that Tarte Tatin makes an increasingly frequent appearance on our menu. How come, I hear you ask. I’m glad you asked. It’s simply because I figured out how to make a Tarte Tatin which I consider to be as good as it gets, and not in need for any further improvements. To top it all, it is also very quick and easy to make. So, here goes:
Tarte Tatin is an upside-down cake, with a topping of caramelized apples on a shortcrust base (but made upside down, crust on top). You need a fire-proof frying pan for it, one with a metal handle (or take off the plastic handle), as it needs to go into the oven.
Mix 200g white flour with 100g soft butter. Add a pinch of salt, and mix thoroughly until you have fine crumbles. You can do this in the blender or using a hand mixer and a tall bowl. Now add one whole free range egg, and a tablespoon or two of cold water. Mix until it forms a homogenous glue.
Place a layer of cling film on your worktop, big enough to cover the frying pan. If necessary, have two strips of cling film overlap. Place the dough in the middle and flatten it out by hand as much as you can, then cover with the same sized cling film arrangement.
With the dough between the cling film sheets, roll it to an even 3mm.
Put flat into the fridge to rest â€“ I never have space in my fridge for this, so I simply put it flat down onto a cold tiled floor.
Peel five firm and aromatic apples. Braeburn or Pink Lady are my favourites. Cut into quarters, remove cores. Set aside.
Pre-heat your oven to 190 Celsius.
Pre-heat your frying pan on fairly high heat on your gas or electric cooker. Mix 100g white cane sugar (= 5 table spoons) with the seeds from one vanilla pod (keep the remaining pod for later). Heat this vanilla sugar mix, just to the point where the first sugar crystals start dissolving. Add 100ml of Armagnac, Calvados or Brandy and stir to dissolve the sugar. Take care nothing catches fire (I’m serious! There’ll be a cloud of combustible alcohol vapour, so do take care).
Add the left-over vanilla pod, then distribute the apples into the mix. This should now be bubbling away merrily. Allow to bubble for a minute or two, then add 6 to 8 walnut-sized pieces of soft butter, evenly distributed across the pan. Allow the butter to melt, the apples to get coated, and the caramel to form.
Because this uses much less butter than your standard-prescription caramel, you’ll only need to give it a few minutes, or until it turns golden.
Remove pan from heat.
Take dough out of cling film, and cover the apples with it. Tuck it in around the edges so that it makes an upside-down cake. Don’t worry if the bottom (the part facing you) isn’t flat â€“ it’ll be uneven because it rests on the apples.
Put into the oven at 190 Celsius for approximately 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and immediately turn upside down onto a suitable cake serving plate. Don’t wait for the pan to cool â€“ turn over immediately!
Service with or without vanilla ice cream (with optional plum and calvados mix-ins).