Sunday, June 15, 2008

As French as Tarte Tatin

I'm glad I was able to cook with my brother David while he was visiting us in Austin. He loves cooking as much as I do and I like to learn cooking tips from him. Before leaving Paris,  he had asked me if there was anything I needed from France as far as cooking gear or ingredients. 

One thing that my kitchen was missing was a tarte tatin pa-very easy classic French dessert-, like this one. It's basically a pan that is able to go from stove top to oven. For a tarte tatin, you need to make a caramel on the stove top, tuck a pie dough on top of it all and stick it in the oven for baking. 

Do you really need that type of dish to make it? No, you can definitely use a skillet or make the caramel in a stovetop pan and pour it on top of your apples already arranged in a basic round pie oven dish, that's for sure. But I'm all for minimizing mess and clean up. Plus, I am definitely planning on making tarte tatin over and over again, so it's a good investment!

David did bring me my long-waited-for dream pan and we set off to make our tarte tatin. The already very hot Texan Summer weather might not be the best time to make a tarte tatin; it's definitely a cold weather type of dessert but here's my take on this: if it's that good, then I don't care if it's hot outside. Just bring it on!

Traditionally, a tarte tatin is made with apples, which is what we did, but the recipe is versatile; pears, plums, apricots will work well too.

So here's the few tips I have gathered:

  • David prefers to use a puff pastry dough but I personally prefer a pie dough.
  • Better make a light caramel than a too dark one. A light blond color is good. Too dark and it makes the apples bitter.
  • Do eat the tarte lukewarm.
  • DO serve it with vanilla ice-cream or creme fraiche.
  • I know I could make my own pie dough, it's easy to make and I do like to make a lot of things from scratch but I've learned to take some shortcuts. A good quality store bought pie dough works very well!

1 pie dough, rolled out to the size of the dish
1/2 stick unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup sugar + 2 tbsp to sprinkly over the apples
2 tbsp water
5 big apples, peeled, cored and cut in quarters (Granny Smith for example)
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel, core and cut the apples in quarters and drizzle with lemon juice to prevent browning. 

Let's get the caramel ready. Scatter the diced butter at the bottom of a flame-resistant dish. Sprinkle the sugar on top, the water and arrange the apples (core side up), making sure they are snug and tight. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. 

Place on medium heat, and keep your eyes on the caramelization process, until the caramel has a  light brownish/blondish color. Do not stir. The lighter the color, the better, or it will taste bitter. Better stop the caramelization earlier than too late. Remove from the stovetop when done.

Place the rolled out dough on top of the caramelized apples, making sure you fold in and tuck in the edges. With a knife, make a small hole in the center of the dough and 2 more on either side of the center to let the steam out. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow the pan to cool for 5 minutes, then separate the edges of the tarte from the pan with a spatula. Invert the tart on a plate larger than the pan. 

Voila! Here's your upside-down tarte. It's better to eat the tarte tatin the same day. And definitely eat it lukewarm with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.


Nicole said...

It tastes as good as it looks. Yum.

Marie Reed said...

What a creative blog title! My tummy is certainly rumbling:)