This is my experience of learning to make this traditional French dish from our Co Founder Laurie Vaquer. The recipe is included at the end.
A couple of weeks ago Laurie, Take Me Cooking’s Co-Founder came to visit us in England. It was a working and social trip with plenty of time for cooking as that is what we both love to do!
During her stay Laurie told me about her sisters café in France, it sounds like the perfect place and I’d love to visit one day. The chef at the café taught Laurie the tricks to making a Tarte Tatin and she wanted to share this with me during her trip. This had been on my list of things to learn for some time, it would always be made during a series of MasterChef and was something I wanted to learn.
Laurie’s Sisters Café, Le Johane. 617 likes. Salon de thé, Restaurant végétarien / Méditerranéen. 23 place Semard, 34500 Béziers. tel : 09 82 41 00 72
Choosing our Apples
We started to make a list of the ingredients we would need, this was when I discovered that the French use A LOT of butter in their cooking! They also use different types of apples not available to us here, by using pictures we worked out which apples available to us in England might be the best (Tip: Braeburn worked perfectly!) It transpired the size of the apples are also different, Laurie had noted that we needed 6 apples, after using a standard English size apple from the supermarket I would recommend 10.
Shortcrust pastry or not?
The pastry, this a lot like shortcrust pastry and Laurie said that some people will use readymade shortcrust pastry which is fine if you’re short on time. The method and taste is definitely different to shortcrust as I know it and for me, having been taught by Laurie I wanted to make it the way it is made in France and I think you can taste the difference! We did use a mixer which helped a lot and makes it much easier!
History of the Tarte Tatin
Whilst the pastry was chilling in the fridge Laurie explained where this dish came from. It was actually created accidently! By two sisters, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin who ran a hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron, France (The hotel was called ‘Hotel Tatin’).
Stephanie Tartin was baking a traditional apple pie but accidentally left the apples cooking in the butter and sugar too long, trying to save the apples she put the pastry on top of the pan and put the whole thing in the oven, once cooked she turned it out and had created a caramelised apple upside down cake, after a huge success with the hotel guests this became the ‘Tarte Tatin’!
This story has been argued by historians as to whether it was created at this hotel originally but true or not it’s a nice story and I think one we can all relate to, our cooking accidents may not always have this outcome but we’ll always try and save something that’s gone wrong!
Don’t make the same mistake!
The apples are then peeled and quartered and laid at the bottom of the dish, covered in a hot butter and sugar mixture and baked in the oven.
This is where the first attempt went very wrong! My fault!
The recipe calls for a deep wide dish and I thought I’d found the perfect thing, my springform cake tin! (This a tin that clips together making it easier to release the cake after cooking) What I didn’t consider was the apples cook in a syrup ….. this ended up leaking and covering the bottom of the oven! So a Top Tip for making a Tart Tatin is always use a solid dish!
The apples were rescued and we had extra butter and sugar so were back on track! (with the right dish this time) Once the apples had cooked the pastry was added to the top and baked in the oven. Once cooked and after waiting for the dish to cool slightly it was time to hold our breath and turn out!
It looked, smelled and tasted amazing!
I am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to learn this dish (Thank you Laurie!) and I can’t recommend making this one enough! Whilst Laurie was here we made it 3 times and held a BBQ with friends and family who all enjoyed it and it has been requested again since! It’s one of those dishes that does require a little bit of effort but anyone can make it and it’s very impressive!
For the Pastry;
- 200g Plain Flour
- 110g Soft Butter
- A pinch of salt
- 70g Icing Sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons ground almonds
- For the Syrup;
- 50g Caster Sugar
- 70g Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- A pinch of salt
- 1 Teaspoon of vanilla paste
- 10 Apples
For the pastry:
In a mixer combine the flour and the butter for a couple of minutes until it has a breadcrumb consistency. Add the salt, the icing sugar and the ground almonds and combine. Finally, whilst still moving add the egg and continue to mix until you have a soft dough. (A little too sticky – add a little extra flour! A little to firm – add a drop of water!)
Roll your dough out between two pieces of parchment paper until around ¼ inch thick, roll it to a similar size of the dish you are going to be using and place it in the fridge for 2- 4 hours.
Heat the oven to 180 degrees
Peal, cut the apples into quarters and remove the seeds. Place these in the bottom of your dish (see picture above).
Place all of your syrup ingredients in a pan and heat slowly until bubbling and melted. Pour the syrup over the apples and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Take your pastry from the fridge and carefully place over your apples, making sure to tuck the edges into the pan – don’t worry this doesn’t need to be too neat – it gets turned out upside down!
Bake in the oven for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a least 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate and serve!
We enjoyed this with ice cream. You can also make it in advance and warm through in the oven or microwave later!
We’d love to know how this recipe worked for you and see your photos!