Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Apple Tarte Tatin

The good thing about the school holidays is that it gives me time and an excuse to make more food. I don't have to worry about school the next morning or an assignment I have to complete. I am feeling so happy right now because I am creating something every day. First it was Hot Cross Buns, then the Lemon and Orange Tart, and now it's Apple Tarte Tatin.

This recipe is from 'Ultimate Cake' by Barbara Maher. I decided on it because it was easy to throw together and my neighbour had some apples that I could use up (Yeah, she's very nice). I made a large Tarte and several small ones, but the big one was consumed (by 10 people) before I could shoot it.

The pastry (pâte brisée, which means shortcrust pastry) came together pretty well, but it all started to get a bit wonky when we moved on to the caramel. It says to put 90 grams of butter and 100 grams of granulated sugar into a saucepan and heat until golden brown. I used caster sugar the first time round, thinking it wouldn't make a difference. I also stirred like crazy in the beginning, which was another mistake. My head started spinning as the sugar clumped together under the layer of melted butter and bubbled like crazy. I don't have words to describe it. It was quite disheartening and rather unsightly.

Another try, with granulated sugar, and we were off to a good start, until I realised you shouldn't stir. So as the sugar edged towards the same fate, I cranked up the heat and told my neighbour not to stir. Both of us watched the pot of bubbling sugar and butter in earnest, hoping it would work. After about 5 minutes, I decided to move the pan to a bigger flame. It bubbled more fiercely and colour started creeping in. For a second we were rejoicing, but then the sugar started burning. We quickly moved it back to the small flame and dropped in the apples. They cook in the 'caramel' for 10 minutes and are then moved away. In the end, we ended up with what looked like caramel but I'm not sure that it actually was.
The rest of the procedure worked quite well. Preheated the oven without exploding, greased the tin without droppinng it, placed the apples into the pan without breaking. The only problem was that I rolled out the pastry too much. It was too thin so once I inverted it, the base broke into a few large pieces. That wasn't a problem though, as it was gobbled up well within 5 minutes. The individual ones weren't so bad either, but I only baked them for half the time.
I hope everybody enjoyed their Easter as I certainly did. Now it's time for me to relax as it's the school holidays.


Obtained from 'Ultimate Cake' by Barbara Maher

For the pastry

1 quantity pâte brisée

For the topping

1.5kg small dessert apples
90gr butter
100g granulated sugar

Cake Tin: 24cm moule à manquer tin or heavy-based, shallow, round cake tin

1. Allow the pastry to come back to room temperature. Remove the cores from the apples with an apple corer. Peel and cut them in half.

2. For the topping, put the butter and sugar into a large saucepan or deep fryer pan. Heat gently until melted. Cook, stirring now and then, until the mixture starts to caramelize and turn golden brown.

3. Take the pan off the heat and add the apple halves. Gently turn them over in the mixture until well coated, return to a high heat and cook, stirring gently now and then, for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened even more and the apples are golden brown.

4. Pack the apples tightly into the bottom of the tin, rounded-side down. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a circle slightly larger than the top of the tin. Lift carefully on to the apples and tuck the edges down well around the fruit.

5. Bake in the preheated oven (220°C) for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the tin for 5 minutes so that the juices have time to set slightly; but do not leave longer or the caramel sauce and the apples will stick to the base of the tin and not to the tart.

7. Run a round-bladed knife around the edge of the pastry and carefully turn out the tart on to a plate. Leave to cool slightly. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Pâte Brisée (Shortcrust Pastry)

180g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
100g chilled butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1-2 tablespoons iced water

1. Sift the flour once more, together with the salt, into a large mixing bowl or on a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre.

2. Cut the chilled butter into pieces and add to the flour. Lightly rub the butter and the flour together with the tips of your fingers, lifting the mixture and letting it fall back down, until you have a fine, crumb-like mixture.

3. Add the caster sugar to the bowl and stir in with a fork, making sure it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

4. Mix the egg yolk with the water until well blended. Drizzle over the mixture while stirring continuously with a small, round-bladed knife.

5. Work swiftly yet lightly, continue to stir everything together until the mixture starts to stick together in little lumps.

6. Gently bring the small lumps of pastry together using the heel of the hand until they form a rough ball. The quicker you do this the better.

7. Knead briefly on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour

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