Our bumper apple harvest has had us wading through buckets of apples. Apple puree for the freezer, apple juice and cider for imbibing, apple chutney and of course cakes and tarts.
Apple Tart Tatin is right up there when it comes to apple tarts. In our household it is the queen. It also uses a surprising amount of apples to make which helps get through the apple mountain. This tart takes a little time to prepare but the resulting buttery caramelised apples are worth the effort.
You will need an iron or cast-iron pan that can go on the stove top and also in the oven as this tart begins with apples sitting on a bed of butter and sugar gently caramelising on the stove top. The apples are then completely cooled and covered with pastry. Sweet pastry or puff pastry both work – my preference is for sweet pastry but whatever you have.
The size of the pan depends on how many people you have to feed and how many apples you have. A small pan will use around fifteen apples and large pan around 20-25 apples. Always have more at hand than you think you will need. I use small apples which are not floury. Our garden is full of ancient apple trees but if you need to buy the apples Cox’s Pippins or Braeburn are ideal.
This is the recipe for a small pan- all the measurements are approximate as the method will reveal
Apple Tart Tatin
about 150g butter
about 150g caster sugar
about 15 small apples
400g sweet or puff pastry
Slice the butter thinly and cover the bottom of the pan. Cover the butter with caster sugar – not completely buried but lightly covered.
Peel the apples, cut into half, take out the cores and tidy the apples up – take out the ends where the stalk and belly button were.
Place the apple halves into the pan. If the apple has a fat end put the fat end facing out. Pack them tightly sitting on their sides.
Put the pan onto the heat to melt the sugar and butter. When it bubbles up turn the heat to medium low. It should have some lively action going on but not too fierce otherwise it will burn. Let it slowly cartelise turning the pan to get even cooking. This will take about fifteen minutes, keep a close eye as when the it caramelises it will go quite quickly. Take the pan off the heat when the caramel is deep golden – you’ll see this bubbling around the edge. Take the pan off the heat. Iron pans retain the heat so if it looks like the caramel is getting too dark sit the pan onto some cool water to slow it down.
Leave to cool completely,
Put the oven on 180c
Roll the pastry into a circle two fingers width wider than the pan. Carefull lift the pastry over the apples and tuck in the edges.
Cook for approx 30 mins, until the pastry is golden.
Take out of the oven and leave to cool almost completely. Don’t fiddle with it or be tempted to turn it out whilst it is hot as the caramel will not be set and will run off the tart which will break your heart after all that effort.
When the pan is nearly cold – only a little warm underneath, run a knife around the edge of the pastry to ensure it’s all mobile then put large plate over the pan and invert the tart quickly. Gently lift the pan off of the tart….. et voila! Alternatively allow the tart to go completely cold cold then heat the pan for couple of minutes to loosen the caramel then follow the same procedure.
Delicious with cream, ice-cream or custard