Saturday, April 30, 2011

Picture perfect Tarte Tatin


I keep making Tarte Tatin since I came back from France. Last time I made a pretty innocent one, with not much sugar and butter. This time I wanted it to be rich and really pretty. The idea was to make a thick apple layer. Like the one I saw in Berthillon Paris cafe.

The thing pictured in my memory when I visited the cafe with my Paris friend. Berthillon seems to be the most famous Paris ice-cream cafe. It has many outlets, which are surprisingly located one almost next to the other. When I first came to Ile Saint-Louis, the first thing I notices was that almost all the people in the street were eating fruit sorbets from slim waffle cones. Then I bumped into Berthillon street stand. It offered many different fruit sorbets. I got a mango scoop - ah! - it was the best fruit sorbet I ever tried.

I kept walking and found another Berthillon outlet, which was a cafe with tables, waiters and a long line outside. Next time we came together to have fun standing in that line. When we entered I noticed the Tarte Tatin in their vitrine. It was som 8-10 cm thick, I'm not kidding. That was all apples on a thin pastry layer. I didn't happen to try it though. We immediately were taken up by the ice-cream menu.

No surprise my Tatin didn't come out a twin of the Berthillon one. I'm still happy though as I got a gorgeous layer of soft and melting apples saturated with dark buttery caramel on a light and thin pastry. This Tatin also was much more beautiful than the previous one. So here is the recipe.

Tarte Tatin (with thick apple layer, dark and rich caramel and thin pastry)

serves 8

6 baking apples
50 g butter
150 gr sugar
100 gr ready made puff pastry

Peel and core the apples. Slice them into segments around 1.5 cm thick.

In a small heavy base pan combine the sugar with some water (enough to get the sugar wet). Set the pan over high heat, bring to boil. Boil until the syrup thickens and turns golden. Cook a bit more, to get dark brown color. When done, pour the caramel into a round cake baking dish (I'm using a 22 cm one).

Slice the butter and place it on the caramel layer. As the caramel is still hot, the butter will melt and spread into a thin layer.

Place the first layer of apples on top of the butter to get the proper "Tatin" look. Add the rest of apples, packing them tightly. The apple layer might be taller than the baking dish side. Don't worry, apples cook down dramatically.

Cover the dish with foil and stick into 200°C oven. Bake for 20 minutes, take out. Without removing the foil press the apples down, to make them fit the dish. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Take the apples out and remove the foil.

Unfreeze the puff pastry if you bought it frozen. Roll it into a circle about 2-3 mm thick. Cover the apples with puff pastry. Fork the pastry a bit and and stick the dish back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown.

Take the Tatin out, let it rest for 15-20 minutes. If you want it picture perfect, then you want to let it rest longer. Maybe even cool completely.

Before serving cover the baking dish with the serving plate and flip the tatin over. Normally it comes out with no problems. If some of the apples stick to the baking dish, just move them with a knife. Cut and serve. I prefer it warm with a schoop of vanilla ice-cream. However it is also great cold and just on its own.

Related posts and pages:

Tarte aux poires normande (French pear tart)
Moscow cafes and bakeries guide