I am constantly amazed by the number of different ways we have come up with to combine apples and pastry. From danishes and strudels to pies and tarts and all the crumbles, buckles, crisps and cobblers in between, we seem to have a serious soft spot for this scrumptious little pairing . The moment the weather starts turning chilly I have a deep set need to throw some spices at apples, cover them in dough and fill the house with the smell of them baking. I definitely get this from my father. Now sometimes I can spend the whole day mixing, chilling and rolling pastry. On these days I’ll spend hours macerating fruit in sugar and spices to create that perfect pie, but lets be honest, most days, like today with the snow piling up and a couple of good DVDs waiting, I just want a quick fix. In this instance a crumble will usually satisfy, but when friends are coming over it has to be a Tarte Tatin. It’s just as easy to throw together, but the difference is , well, it sounds French!
So to start, take:
- Six Apples
- 1 Packet Puff Pastry
- 4 Tbs of Butter
- 150 gm Caster Sugar
- a Splash of Vanilla
- a Sprinkle of Cinnamon and Nutmeg
- the Zest of one Lemon
- 1 Stick of Cinnamon
The hardest part of making this is peeling and coring the apples. Once this is done, turn the oven on to 180 ° C and then melt the butter in a pan. Add all the apples and let them bubble away for few minutes. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir. Then sprinkle the sugar into the pan and leave it to slowly melt and caramelise. You want to finish up with soft apples and a gooey toffee sauce.
This is where I deviate from the traditional Tarte Tatin. Rather than baking it in the pan I used to caramelise the apples, I transfer it to a pie tin. Not really sure why I do this, I just always have. I put the cinnamon stick in the middle of the pie tin and then place the apples around it. Then I grate the zest of a lemon over the whole lot. This sounds like an easily skip-able step, but please don’t. This is what brings the dish to life.
Roll out the pastry into a roughly round shape just a little larger than the pie tin you’re using.
Then place the pastry on top of the apples and tuck it in around the edges. This can be made a couple of hours before your guests arrive and then popped in the oven while you’re eating your mains. Bake for about 25-30 mins until the pastry is puffed up and golden. Leave it to rest for about 10 min and then run a knife around the edges of the tin. Place the plate you’re going to serve it on on top of the pie tin and turn out the Tarte Tatin. Serve it with a sprinkle of icing sugar and a dollop of cream or custard.
So, to misquote Matt Damon,”How do you like them apples?”
This one’s for you Dad.