Friday, 2 October 2009

How'd you like them apples?!

As promised, here's my recipe for Tarte Tatin. Simple to make, it tastes great and is a great show-piece at the end of a meal - especially when you set it on fire with Calvados!

Caution: Setting anything on fire is best left to a sober adult so if you've drank a bottle of Puligny Montrachet with your first course and are working your way quite nicely through a fine Bordeaux by the time dessert comes around I suggest passing the matches to your teetotal aunt or someone else along those lines.

Ingredients for 6:

12 Granny Smith apples
1 lemon
350g unsalted butter
350g caster sugar
1 pack of frozen puff pastry that you have let thaw (seriously, do not bother making puff pastry yourself unless you are going for a Michelin star or something. The quality of ready made frozen puff pastry is just fine)

  1. Preheat your oven to 220 celsius
  2. Fill a large bowl with water. Halve your lemon, squeeze in the juice and throw in the squeezed lemon halves. This is where you will put your apple halves to stop them turning yucky.
  3. Take an apple and cut off its bottom so it sits flat on a work surface. Repeat with the top of the apple. Peel and core and then halve from top to bottom. Place the apple in your water and lemon bowl. Repeat with all of the apples.
  4. Pour your sugar into an oven proof frying pan or skillet and pour in a little water, just enough to help the sugar dissolve. Now heat up the sugar so that it dissolves into sugar syrup. Keep heating til the the syrup turns a lovely golden blond.
  5. Add in the butter and stir through the syrup.
  6. Carefully place the apples rounded side down in the syrup. Be careful - getting hot caramel stuck on your fingers is not pleasant. The wet apples will slow down the darkening of the syrupy caramel so blast up the heat - you want to get some nice colour on them there apples! Manoeuvre the apples so that they are in nice tight concentric circles. If you have some spaces fry up a few more apple halves in butter and fill in your gaps.
  7. Now turn off the heat and leave the apples and syrup in the pan to cool completely - keep that nice apple pattern. This is the part that many tatin recipes leave out and it is essential for the next step to work properly. I place my pan on a trivet and place the whole thing in the fridge for twenty minutes.
  8. Roll out your puff pastry so it is about as thick as a pound coin.
  9. Lay the pastry over your apples in the pan and then tuck it down around the inside edge of the pan so it folds around all of the apples - do not worry if the pastry touches the caramel.
  10. Put your pastry covered apple pan back in the fridge for ten minutes to relax the pastry.
  11. Place the pan in the oven for 30 minutes. Checking to see the pastry does not burn.
  12. Take pan out of oven and let cool for 20 minutes.
  13. Tricky bit - place a tray over your pan and flip over the tatin so the pan is upside down. Be careful not let hot caramel pour down your arm. Carefully lift off the pan and there should be your beautiful tarte tatin. Carefully reposition any unruly apple pieces.
There you have it. Serve hot or warm with vanilla ice cream and flambé in Calvados.

Tip: Warm the Calvados in a saucepan in a pan before trying to light it.

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