As my French pastry book states rather dryly as the starting sentence of this recipe: Choose a tart pan with fixed bottom for this dish – and let me tell you why. I had not made this presumable super-classic amongst the French (apple) tarts for a while when I was looking for a not too time-consuming to prepare, yet impressive, and – of course – delicious dessert for Christmas last year, and I made up my mind to make a small-sized Tarte Tatin (I inserted a picture of the outcome below). Since I do not possess a small tart pan, I chose a small springform pan which however has a removable bottom. And which I thought would be just fine.
What a grave mistake to make! Filling the caramel into the cake pan did not yet cause any problems. I added the apples and spread the pastry over the filling, and let the tart bake in the oven. It was not until my oven timer informed me of the end of the baking process that I realized that the entire caramel had spilled out of the pan through the removable bottom and had spread nicely all over the bottom of the oven. And as if the rest of the world were in dire need of a good example of Murphy’s law that happened just one day after a full cleaning of the oven, which had taken me three (!) hours. Being aware that sugar is best cleaned when the oven is still warm (note: warm – NOT BURNING HOT!), I decided to clean up the mess immediately without waiting for the oven to cool off; my mind fixed that I shall be very careful. I still have a horrible burn mark on my right hand now, and back then, I could not sleep without pain killers for three nights.
You may now start having an idea of how absolutely delicious this tart must be that despite all of this, I ventured into making a Tarte Tatin again just recently. This time with a proper tart pan. One with a fixed bottom. If you want to try out this recipe for yourself, I have to make this my most pressing piece of advice: Do likewise!!!
For the pastry:
- 200 grams of flour
- 100 grams of cold butter
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- a couple of tablespoons of water
For the filling:
- 100 grams of sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 glass of water
- 1 1/2 shots of dark rum
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 kg of apples (choose an apple that bakes nicely like Braeburn, Cox or Jonagold)
Preparing the pastry:
- Pass the flour through a fine mesh onto the clean kitchen counter or a baking mat. Cut the cold butter into small pieces into the flour. Rub the butter and the flour between your hands until you have a crumble.
- Add the sugar and the salt. Form a depression in the center of your flour mix and add the egg yolk. Quickly start kneading the ingredients adding tablespoons of water one by one until the dough is smooth, but not sticky. Should the dough become too sticky, add a bit more flour.
- Form a ball, wrap it into cellophane and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for approximately 15 minutes.
Preparing the filling:
- First, make the caramel: Put the sugar into a saucepan and add approximately 1/4 glass of water and the rum – just enough to soak all of the sugar. Give the sugar a bit of time in order to soak, and only then add some more water should not all of the sugar have gotten soaked. Heat up over medium to high temperature and let the liquid reduce until it thickens and adopts a light brown (caramel) color. Refrain from stirring throughout – at most move the liquid by slightly moving the pot every now and then. Also note that the temperature should not be too hot or the sugar will burn.
- Lightly butter a tart pan with a fixed bottom. Fill the hot caramel into the tart pan and spread evenly over the bottom.
- Peel the apples, cut in quarters and remove the core. If you have an apple corer, you may also remove the core from the whole fruit and then cut them in halves.
- Place the apples quarters or halves in the tart pan with the center on the caramel and the outside facing up.
- Roll out the dough on a floured or oiled surface to a round that is approximately 2 to 3 cm larger in diameter than the tart pan. Place the pastry on top of the apples and tuck the pastry down the sides.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan oven). Bake the tart for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry is nicely brown.
- Serve lukewarm, and, if you like, with a teaspoon of crème fraîche.