Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What's on the MENU this week: Classic Tarte Tatin

Cool Autumn weather has been showing its face this week and we were entertaining over the Easter Weekend. We had been given a bag of lovely Elgin apples so the choice of our dessert was easy. This recipe is very original, from the French; it uses lots of wicked things like sugar and butter and is absolutely irresistible. Lynne usually uses short crust pastry but decided this time, as time was short, not to make the pastry but to buy the (you need a small mortgage) butter puff pastry from Woolworths. It rose like a dream, but was thin and, despite leaving it in the oven a bit too long - the apples were melting - was still soggy when turned out. The Americans have made adaptations to the recipe which Lynne does not like. They always want things easier and quicker. They are using huge chunks of apple and are cooking them in a butter and sugar caramel before applying the pastry, which is always puff. We prefer a paté brisée (a rich short crust pastry) and normal sliced apples. Peel them if you like, don't if you prefer. Lynne makes this is in a heavy bottomed sauté pan with two handles. First you make caramel in the pan, then you arrange the fruit, then top with pastry. Remember, Caramel is not pale, honey-coloured, nor is it dark burnt brown. A nice red brown is enough
Rich Shortcrust Pastry
175g plain flour - 50g icing sugar - a pinch of salt - 90 g butter - 1 egg yolk - 2 tablespoons iced water - squeeze of lemon juice
Sift flour and sugar with the salt, then rub in the butter until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Mix the yolk and 1 tablespoon water with lemon juice and mix into the flour with a knife. Use one hand to quickly and gently press into a firm dough. Add more water if necessary, but do not make the pastry too wet. Wrap in cling film and chill till ready to use. You can also make this in a food processor.
Making the caramel : 1/2 cup white sugar
Have ready a bowl full of cold water large enough to take the base of the pan, so that you can cool the caramel quickly to stop it burning. Put the pan on the heat and cover the base with half a cup of sugar. Watching it carefully, allow it to turn itself into caramel. Do not leave it alone, never stir and do not let it burn. Do not touch it, you will get burned. When the caramel has reached a good red amber colour, turn off the heat and put just the base of the pan into the cold water to stop the caramelisation. Do not get any water into the pan. Let it cool to a hard set
1 kilo Granny Smith apples - 2 t lemon juice - 50 g butter - 50g brown Treacle or Demerara sugar - 50g vanilla castor sugar - 25 g butter
Preheat the oven to 200°C
Peel, core and slice the apples, approx 2 cm thick half moon slices. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Put small teaspoonfuls of the soft butter on the base of the pan on top of the set caramel, sprinkle over the treacle sugar. Then arrange the apple slices in tight concentric circles in the pan, on top of the sugar and the butter. Sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and add the 25g of butter. Roll out the pastry into a circle just larger than the pan and lay it on top of the apples, tucking the edges in down the sides of the apples. Put into the oven for half an hour or until the pastry is golden and crisp
Turning out. You will need a dish larger than the pan, with a good lip - Lynne uses a very large quiche dish. Put the dish over the pan and, using tea towels to protect your hands, carefully and quickly flip the pan over so that the tart upends into the dish. Do this over a sink and make sure you flip away from yourself. This is where you get loud applause from anyone looking. Get someone to help you if you are nervous. There is always someone brave at a dinner party. There will be lots of buttery caramel juices. Serve immediately. We always flame the apples with a little calvados or brandy. Serve with thick cream and or real vanilla custard. Serve with chilled calvados or a Noble Late Harvest dessert wine
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