I love the mantra of maximum effect for minimum effort! And this could easily be applied to my Tart Tatin recipe, a simple version of this French classic.
A few weeks ago Erik and I were hosts to Paul and John (from Worthing) for dinner and they seemed to enjoy this dish. Last weekend Chris and Michael (who live just around the corner) came to dinner and I trotted this one out again. Oh no, it does make me look like a one trick pony. All the same the great thing about this dish is that you do not have to spend hours over the stove whilst your guests are waiting for their pud!
To Make My Tart Tatin Recipe You Will Need
- 4 Eating Apples
- Lemon Juice
- 150g Golden Caster Sugar
- 25g Butter
- Ready-rolled Puff Pastry
- Frying Pan (oven proof handle)
- Ice Cream or Cream – or even Custard!
Peel eating apples. Please do not use cooking apples – they do not retain their shape as the tart cooks and you will end up with pastry and baby food! I am using Granny Smith, or you could use Golden Delicious. Personally I don’t like Cox’s in this dish, but that is just my preference.
Cut the apples into 6 pieces and take out the core. As you work with the apples drop them into acidulated water. Stick with me and I give you lots of long words (long but misspelled) acidulated water is just water and lemon juice; this stops them discolouring.
The frying pan has to be one that can go in the oven and be baked – so no plastic handle here. I use a well-seasoned cast iron one for this job; in fact this is all I use this pan for.
To make the caramel put the sugar into the pan and add 2 tablespoons of water – then swirl the mixture. Put the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil – at this point turn the heat down to medium/high. Swirl the mixture so that you don’t get hot spots where the caramel goes black. DO NOT STIR IT! Sugar is a right pain as it wants to re-crystallise so badly, stirring it will make it turn back to crystals and ruin your caramel.
When the caramel has reached a golden toffee colour take it off the heat and let it cool just for a moment and then add the butter and swirl together. If you bung the butter straight in it just spits too much. Take care when working with molten sugar; do not let the kids near this.
Arrange your apple pieces – fit them in as neatly as you can, remember that the bottom of the pan will become the top of the finished tart. If you need to chop the odd slice up to plug any big holes. To fit my 25cm pan 4 apples is enough, but you could cram a fifth one in, this would make your finished tart deeper and will serve more people.
If I am making this for guests I do all of this and let it go cold; when we sit down to the starter I put the oven on at 200C (that’s just under 400F… for you Nancy!). Just before serving the main course I stick the pan on the hob and warm it up to get the caramel bubbling and start the apples releasing their juices.
Put the tart to bed. Take a dinner plate as a guide and cut out a circle of ready rolled puff pastry (please do try to get an all butter version, much nicer), take the pan off the heat and pop the pastry on. With a knife – DO NOT USE FINGERS – tuck the pastry down into the edges.
Pop the tart into the oven and cook for 25mins (or whatever your brand of pastry recommends). You know it is cooked when the top is all golden and puffed up. You can prevent the puffing up by making a hole in the pastry to let the steam out, but I like the juices to mix with my caramel rather than evaporate.
PLEASE – take care when taking this out of the oven, sounds obvious but the handle is hot. I’ve gone to get hold of my pan handle more than once, but I am of limited intellect!
Let the whole thing cool off for 5 mins before covering the pan with a large plate or serving tray and inverting the whole thing. Again, take care of the hot pan and magma-hot caramel. I always use a serving tray with a lip, the amount of juice that comes out of the apples will vary and you don’t want it running away.
We are proper gannets so to serve this I just cut it into 4. If you added more apples you would have a deeper tart and it would easily serve 6. I serve this with my no-churn apple ice cream.