After a lot of cooking and no shopping I had a few root vegetables and five apples left. Very little butter and no eggs. So, what to make? I am not an habitual fancy pastry chef and frankly just eat anything the oven produces but decided to have a go at tarte tatin. So I did a bit of browsing and remembered some past pitfalls, dug around in the emptying store cupboard and ended up with this:
- Ingredients for a 15cm tarte:
- Rough puff pastry: 85g plain flour, 50g cold butter, 15g sugar, juice of half a lemon
- Filling: 4 decent apples, handful of large raisins, a few allspice berries and crushed cloves, juice of half a lemon, finely chopped lemon peel, knob of butter, 15 ml brown sugar, 15ml maple syrup, 15ml apple juice.
- Alternative ingredients; peaches, pears, plums, apricots, cinnamon
- Pastry: First dice the butter and divide into 4 portions. Then make the pastry by rubbing one portion of the butter into sifted flour. Add the sugar, stir it around and bring together with the lemon juice and any extra water necessary. Roll out into a rectangle 3x longer than wide. Cover two/thirds of the rectangle with the next portion of butter, diced. Fold the unbuttered third into the middle and fold the uncovered third over that. Then give the pastry a quarter turn and roll out again. Repeat the buttering, folding and turning twice more (27 layers) . Wrap and put in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
- Filling: While the pastry is resting, core and halve four apples. Sprinkle them with the lemon juice. Put a knob of butter into a heavy pan and add the halved apples, spices, and lemon peel, Let the apples begin to absorb the butter and then add the sugar, maple syrup, juice, raisins and apple offcuts. Traditional versions would make a caramel here but that can go horribly wrong (as Elizabeth David stated ‘burnt sugar is not caramel’) So I have chosen to braise the apples and reduce the liquid until it is jammy.
After 10 minutes or so place the pan in a medium oven (160°C) for about 20 minutes, carefully turning the fruit over at least once. By the end of this cooking time the apples need to be skin side down and sitting in a fairly jammy syrup. Take out of the oven and leave to cool down a bit. Turn the oven up a fraction (180°C)
Get the pastry out of the freezer and roll it out again, fold and turn as before and roll to the shape of the cooking pan. Tuck in over and around the apples. Brush with a milk and maple syrup mix. Bake for 25-30 minutes until brown and fairly firm (it will firm up as it cools)
Using oven gloves, put a plate over the pan and flip upside down. Hopefully it will end up looking like the one above. If it doesn’t it will taste the same, just pile everything back into the pastry shell and serve with cream or on its own. No more butter or sugar for a day or two.