Tarte Tartin

The other day, I picked my first apple of the year from my garden. It’s so satisfying when you twist it and it gently comes away in your hand. In keeping with the apple theme, I thought my first recipe should be my Tarte Tartin. It’s still a little early for apples so I had to pop down to the shops to bulk out my tart but the result was rather satisfying nonetheless! I used Golden Delicious apples but I think that’s just because I like their name. I don’t know which variety the ones from my tree are, but they’re quite firm, more like Braeburns. Cooking apples hold their shape well but eaters are sweeter, so which type of apple you use depends on if you can sacrifice your sweet tooth for presentation.  The tart is best eaten hot when the caramel is still quite liquid (it turns into something more toffee like as it cools) and a dollop of crème fraiche really tops it all off.

The first time I made this, my friend and I were determined to save some, but we just couldn’t. We ate the whole thing. What pigs! That’s fine, no coronary arrests yet. This is a good one if you have a helper, not least to prevent you from eating it all in one sitting yourself.

    You will need:

    5/6 apples

    125g butter

    110g plain flour

    175g sugar

    Half a lemon

    Some cold water

    I’m going to work on the assumption that kitchen utensils are relatively sparse. The only essential for this is a shallow pan/frying pan that can go on the hob and in the oven, I had to wrestle with my frying pan and a screwdriver, to remove the handle, so it would fit in the oven. You don’t need to know that, but it’s a nice mental image for the sadist in you.

    So here are some nice simple steps for a devilishly good pud:

  1. Make the pastry. With your fingertips rub together the flour and 50g of the butter (which should be cold and cut into smallish lumps) until it resembles crumbs. Give the bowl a few short shakes to get the biggest lumps to the top so you can attack them. Don’t let them get away.
  2. Add one tablespoon of really cold water at a time until you can mould the dough into a ball, leaving no crumby bits in the bottom of the bowl. Work nice and quickly, not letting the dough have too much contact with your palms, or it’ll warm up, and we do not want that.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling and put in the fridge.
  4. Meanwhile, peel, core and half your apples. Dunk them in lemon juice as you go along to stop them oxidising and going brown.
  5. Soften the rest of your butter and smother over the base of your pan. Sprinkle your sugar evenly over your butter, yes, I know it seems a lots but it will be worth it. Like I said, I’m still alive to tell the tale.
  6. Place your apples, rounded side down, onto the pan. Squeeze as many as you can in, they’ll shrink a little as they cook. You might need to chop them a bit so they tessellate better.
  7. Turn the heat on very low for 10 minutes or until the butter is all swimmy and melty. Shake the pan every now and again to make sure nothing is sticking.
  8. Turn the heat up, not too much mind, don’t get too excited, just to a medium temperature and keep it there for a further  15-20 minutes or until the the caramel is super bubbly and golden.
  9. While this is happening, turn the oven on to 200°C, have a banana, and when time is nearly up, flour your  table top and roll out your pastry so it’ll fit over the pan.
  10. Drape the pastry over, chopping off any excess (I got a jam tart out of my leftovers), prick with a fork to let out some steam, and quickly bung in the oven for 25 minutes or until you can see the caramel bubbling out the sides and the pastry is crispy.
  11. Not far now. Leave in the pan to cool for 5 minutes (if you can wait that long) then turn the right way up onto a plate, wipe the dribble off your chin and tuck in.


2 Responses to “Tarte Tartin”

  1. phoebe cullingworth says:

    MORE MORE MORE!!!! (recipes)

  2. Uncle Pete says:

    That Tarte Tartin looks and sounds great, but may I offer one word of warning? I’m going to, anyway!
    Some desert apples take absolutely ages to cook. They seem as if they are going to stay rubbery forever. I’ve just tried making an apple tart with what the label on the tree said were worcesters (although they don’t taste like worcesters I’ve eaten in the past). It looked pretty good, with all the plump pieces of apple on top, neatly laid out, but they were just rubbery. Not dry, not burned, just rubbery, yet the pastry was done just right. So if you are going to make an apple tart for a party, don’t just buy any old desert apple and hope it will be OK. It might be great, but it might be bouncy!

    By the way – if you have some pears which are a getting scruffy but slightly under-ripe, and you need to cook them , its great to poach them in red wine. However, if you can’t afford red wine, try cooking in water plus honey instead. Honey and pears seem to go together particularly well, and I think its as tasty as the red wine version.

    One final thought. September/October is the time of year to scrounge left-over green tomatoes from gardeners, add a few windfall apples, spices, vinegar and sugar and create some delicious chutneys for use right throughout the year.

    Enjoy your cooking!

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