Daring Bakers’ Challenge
Has it ever happened to you?….a song or a tune that keeps playing in your mind, so that you are humming it, tapping your foot to the rhythm, drubbing the table to the tune, till it drives you crazy and then suddenly Whooosh! it’s out of your system. Well something similar happened to me this month. Only that it wasn’t a tune. It was apples. I was like an itch I had to scratch, a tune I had to hum and a craving that had to be satisfied. So through most part of February and early March I have chopped, stewed and cooked the fruit into Apple Cakies, Apple Crumble and now finally Tarte tartin. This is my first Daring Bakers’ Challenge and I have been so excited to post it on the blog. What a fitting way to end my apple –mania!
I have to thank Korena from Korena in the Kitchen for this lovely coincidence. My blog is a by-product of Daring Bakers’. After going through a few of the archived challenges and seeing how proficient my fellow Daring Bakers are in the kitchen and at the keyboard I was inspired and lured out of my technological hibernation and ofcourse, I couldn’t resist the temptation of an uninterrupted monologue. So thank you Daring Bakers’, Korena and visitors and readers.
Korena has given a charming story that led to the invention of TT and I am always sold on a good story. 2 sisters Mademoiselles Tartin running a hotel in Paris in the 1880s forgot the base while making an apple pie. They decided to simply put the base on top of the filling and bake it……it was a hit with the guests and the rest is history.
I had never made a Tarte Tartin, though the rough puff pastry has passed a few times through my fingers and never failed to please. In India the summer has set in with a vengeance and is not kind to pastry. Chill the butter. Be careful when adding water to the pastry. Do it a little at a time. Don’t dump it all in at once. Maybe you will require lesser than the quantity specified. I had to refrigerate the dough after the first fold. After that it behaved beautifully. Don’t remove it from the fridge more than 5 minutes before you plan to roll it out, especially if your kitchen is warm. Its always a good idea to roll pastry between 2 large pieces of cling film or parchment paper. That way you have less cleaning up to do, less flour to dust the surface and you can lift the pastry off the surface in the film without breaking into a sweat or cracking the dough.
The apple filling was a challenge, I was looking forward to, as my caramel making skills had let me down in the past…so I decided to follow the recipe carefully, keep a strict vigil on the caramel and Voila! the apples looked perfect. I decided to spice it up a little, with nutmeg and cinnamon powder, nothing more….let the apples do the talking.
I found the quantity of caramel was a bit too much so I have cut down on the quantity of sugar and butter. After laying the apples in the baking dish spoon the caramel over the apples to just about less than a centimetre, no need to sink them in the caramel. I used the remaining caramel to stew pears and regretted not making a double batch of pastry. Very soon it will be pear TT.
Tarte Tartin is great tasting with looks to match. It’s a very sweet and indulgent treat so a little bit of self-restraint helps. Temper down the sweetness by serving it with whipped cream, vanilla ice-cream or some cream cheese mixed with yogurt. It won’t keep well for the next day’s breakfast, so invite your friends over and polish it off as soon as its out of the oven.
You can also make a savoury version of Tarte Tartin. Mushrooms, Peppers or any vege that takes your fancy…..eggplant too. But honestly I am not trying eggplant anytime soon. My vote goes to Apples! But then that’s me….you go ahead and find your song!
- Rough Puff Pastry
1 cup (250 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2/3 cup (160 ml) (5 oz) (140 gm) unsalted butter, cold
¼ tsp fine salt
¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water
- For the Apple Filling
6 large or 7-8 medium-sized apples (firm)
Juice of half a lemon
60 grams unsalted butter (or use salted and skip the salt)
200 grams granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg powder
- Directions for making the pastry- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in a little of the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together. Add a little more water if the dough feels dry and doesn’t clump together..
- Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.
- Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is the first fold. Give the dough a quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).
- If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft or sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.
Directions for the filling-
- Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Remove the cores in such a way that each apple quarter has a flat inner side: when placed rounded-side-up. Place the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and 50 grams sugar. This will help draw out some of the moisture from the apples and prevent an overly runny caramel. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5. Melt the butter in a very heavy, 9” or 10” (23 cm or 24 cm) oven-proof or ordinary saucepan over medium heat, then sprinkle with the remaining 150 grams sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar melts and becomes a pale, smooth caramel. The sugar will seem dry and chunky at first, then will start to melt and smooth out. If the butter appears to separate out from the caramel, just keep whisking until it is a cohesive sauce. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the spices.
- Discard the liquid that has come out of the apples, add the apple quarters to the caramel, round side down. They may not fit in a single layer at first, but as they cook they will shrink a bit. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, pressing down gently on the apples with a spoon to cover them in the caramel liquid. Move the apples around the pan gently so that they all cook evenly. When the apples have softened but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat.
- If not using an oven proof sauce pan, transfer the apples into a round oven-proof dish (9”- 10” in diameter) and arrange them round side down, in a single layer of concentric circles covering the bottom of the dish. Set aside the filling until it stops steaming, before covering with pastry.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out evenly ( ¼” thick ) on a lightly floured surface. The round should be an inch bigger than your baking dish. Gently lift it with the help of your rolling pin and place it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5 oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, increasing the oven temperature to moderately hot 400˚F/200°C/gas mark 6 during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking if the pastry isn’t browning properly.
- Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them. The Tarte Tatin can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature. Suggested accompaniments include vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraiche.