Tarte tatin, where have you been all my life?!
It’s funny how insignificant some challenges can seem once you’ve conquered them. Like slightly wholegrain cheat’s puff pastry, and of course, tarte tatin. I don’t know why, but the idea of caramelised apples held together with caramel and pastry seemed like a big deal. Well, I wasn’t wrong – this is a big deal in terms of flavour, but it was so much simpler to make than I thought it would be. I’ll be making it all the time now. Really. This is the first time I’ve made tarte tatin, and it turned out amazing.
Here were the silly little things that had held me back:
- I didn’t have a big enough cast iron pan. Pff. So I used a smaller one. No biggie. Actually this is a little dangerous, as I can make them for lunch (like I did today) and there’s no worrying about leftovers.
- I didn’t want to buy pastry, because it’s a rip off, never tastes as good and has a whole bunch of numbers. I want pastry. See next point.
- I didn’t want to spend a whole day making pastry. So I used a quick puff pastry that took about ten minutes. I even used 1/4 wholemeal flour, and it turned out better than I thought, plus it retained crispiness really well.
- I didn’t have the right apples. So I got a few during my next shop, and mixed em with the apples I did have. Turns out the apples I had were fine to begin with.
- What if the apples stuck to the pan?! First, they didn’t. Second, if they do, just pick them off, and pop them onto your tart. Tada!
Laid back apple tarte tatin
makes one 8-9″ pan – if using a bigger pan just multiply all the ingredients by 1.2 or 1.5
- 80g cold salted butter, roughly cut into 1cm ish cubes
- 100g “high grade” or strong/bread flour. I replaced 25g with wholegrain flour.
- a few Tbspns cold water (just enough to bring the dough together)
This video shows the whole process, but with a food processor to cut the butter into the flour (this is good but I just wanted to keep washing to a minimum). I prefer to use my ratios for the ingredients because I’ve tried 1:1 butter & flour and it’s too delicate for something like a tarte tatin. I also find it’s actuallytoo buttery, which is not something I thought I’d ever say.
After the hour of refrigeration, take out, sprinkle a working surface and dough with flour, and roll out until large enough to neatly cover your pan (and 3-4mm, or about 1/4″ thick). If you want it really neat, place your pan upside down onto the dough, and cut around it for a perfect circle. Keep the scraps for pastry biscuits – they need about 10 minutes in the oven. If you’re in a hot kitchen, I’d place a baking tray or pizza stone in the freezer when you refrigerate the pastry initially, then roll out the pastry on that (with some baking paper underneath). Refrigerate the pastry circle on the paper while you do the filling.
- 4-5 apples, peeled, quartered, and cored*
- 70g unsalted butter, or 50g if you want it a bit lighter and the caramel to be more dense
- 70g white or raw sugar
Preheat your oven to 200C (400F), with a rack centered. In your cast iron pan, heat the butter and sugar on medium heat. Once the butter is fully melted, give it a stir and begin placing your apple pieces in the pan. If you’re (rightly) concerned about being burnt by hot caramel, take the pan off the heat and let the bubbling die down before putting the apples in. I was a daredevil and just placed the apple pieces in while it was bubbling. I lay them on their sides. It’s not pro at all, but there is a reason this recipe is called “laid back”! Feel free to experiment with how you arrange your apples. Next time I might place some around the edge too, but with the outer ring of apples in a different direction. In any case, pack them in as tightly as you can. Place back on heat, and start cleaning up while it bubbles away, spooning caramel over the apples or basting with a brush every few minutes. It will take about ten minutes or so to get from yellow to pale golden…
To a darker caramelly colour (wish I’d photographed that instead…damn you hindsight). Some take it all the way to a deep brown, but I think it’s tastier and safer to go for a nice orangey colour (much like the hideous orange of my stovetop). Burnt caramel is yucky.
Once the caramel is on the verge of going from orange to brown, remove the pan from the heat, and pop the pastry circle over, pushing the edges into the caramel. Pop the pan into the oven on the centre rack, and bake 20 minutes. You can put the pastry cuttings in halfway through. The pastry should be nice and golden brown. Let it cool and sit half an hour. Ha! Good luck.
Using a spoon or knife, ease the edge of the pastry from the side of the pan – the toffee bits will have glued the edges to the pan a bit. These are the best bits. Place a plate over the pan and turn upside down, decisively and quickly. It’s good to do this over a sink just in case any lurking caramel dribbles out the side and catches you. Place this awkward set up down on your bench with a bit of force. Let it sit for a bit until you hear a plop and everything falling onto the plate. Lift the pan a little and ease off the uncooperative apples before fully lifting the pan off the plate.
Serve up. We had ours for lunch plain, although obviously everyone loves vanilla ice cream with it. Personally I think there’s enough fat and sugar there already, especially when you eat a third for lunch >.< See? It’s a good thing I have a small cast iron pan.
Tip: Don’t just wash away all the caramelly toffee bits. I chucked in some oats, covered with water, and let sit overnight. The next morning I simmer away for a caramel apple oatmeal that is out of this world.
Here’s a cut slice so you can check out the pastry. See it doesn’t matter if you use a quick puff pastry because the apples kinda squash the layers anyway. I’m going to be using that pastry so often now for savoury versions. Mushroom and leek. Mmm.
Get cracking while the best apples are out. Thank me later. Won’t even mind if your mouth is full.