I sometimes help out at a charity bookshop sorting out the magazines for sale, and yes there is an ulterior motive, I get first choice of which ones I want to buy! They are quite thin on food magazines and cookbooks, but I have scored some nice cheap fiction books. My friend Beverly (who has the biggest collection of magazines I have ever seen, its more like a library) was going through the box for pulping and discovered an old Marie Claire issue that she liked the look of. In this magazine she found the recipe for this tart. She convinced me to make it, and I was eager for the challenge, never having attempted one. There are many versions of the story as to how the tarte tatin came about. Most agree that its origin involved two sisters called Tatin, and some savvy salvaging of a kitchen disaster. It’s kind of neat that we salvaged this recipe. The first time I made it my guests demolished it in about two minutes! Before I could get a picture! This meant that I had to make it again, what a pity! This time I managed to get a picture before it vanished.
Here is the recipe.
1 cup plain flour
A pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter
50g unsalted butter
80g white sugar
5 Granny Smith Apples, peeled cored and quartered
For the pastry – Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and cut in the butter (which needs to be very cold) into small cubes and rub into the flour with the tips of your fingers or a pastry cutter till the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in a small amount of iced water and mix with you hands till it forms a soft dough. It usually takes about three teaspoons, but will vary with different flours. Wrap in Clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
For the filling: melt the butter in a heavy based pan that can go in the oven. It should be 24cm wide. When the butter starts to foam, sprinkle the sugar over evenly. Cook over a medium heat till the sugar starts to caramelize. Arrange the quartered apples on top in a circular pattern, squeezing them in tightly. Put the heat up high and cook for 5 min till you can smell the apples starting to caramelize.
Meanwhile roll out the pastry till you have a 26cm circle. Gently lay the pastry over the cooking apples and tuck in the excess pastry around the sides. This can look nice and rustic.
Bake for 45 minutes till the pastry is nice and golden. Cover with tin foil and bake a further ten minutes.
To turn out, place a plate on top of your pan, and quickly invert. Give a few gentle taps to dislodge any apples that might have stuck. Turn out the tart while warm or else the apples will stick.
If you are serving this later, allow to cool, but reheat in a 180 degree oven for 10 minutes. Serve with cream, preferably clotted, crème fraiche or ice cream.