Like the chocolate fondant (or FON-DONT as Greg Wallace always insists on shouting in John’s ear), the tarte tatin is something of a Masterchef staple. Be it the UK version, South Africa or Australia, it is pretty much guaranteed that at some point there will be a challenge involving tarte tatin. And it is also a given that one of the contestants will turn to the camera with a trembling lip and declare that they have never made a tarte tatin before.
Cue much shouting at the TV. I mean it’s all well and good being able to whip up a sous-vide fillet of beef or a towering croquembouche but if you can’t make a tarte tatin (or poach an egg, or bake a cake, or make the aforementioned fondant/fondont with requisite gooey centre) then your Masterchef days are surely numbered.
So in preparation for my appearance on the next series of Masterchef, I decided that I had better put my money where my mouth is and make my first ever tarte tatin. JOKE. Even if I had the skills, I could never put myself through the pain of a national TV competition. I would crumble at the pressure of the first mystery box.
No, my first attempt at a tarte tatin was prompted not by Masterchef but by the no-less famous Classic French Challenge hosted by the lovely Jen over at Blue Kitchen Bakes. I was surprised to read that in Jen’s copy of Larousse Gastronomique they advocate using a shortcrust pastry for tarte tatin as I’d always assumed that puff was the right stuff. I was going to go with the Larousse recipe but then got swayed at the last minute by this salted caramel tarte tatin with puff pastry in the October issue of Delicious magazine.
If you happen to still have a copy of this magazine lying around then, seriously, I’d advocate tearing out the recipe and framing it. Honestly, the tarte tatin was THAT good. (Alternatively pop over to the website and bookmark the recipe here.) It is also a good recipe for tatin newbies as it contains lots of little hints and tips for success.
Unfortunately the advice I found most useful has been omitted from the online recipe. This was that if your apples are very juicy (as mine were) then the caramel may become diluted during cooking in which case you should drain off the excess, reduce it in a pan till syrupy and pour it back over the finished tatin.
Crispy pastry, soft apples, perfect caramel with lovely chewy bits around the edges – this is probably as close to pudding perfection as it gets and a dish of which John and Gregg would be proud. Just be warned that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Eating half of a tarte tatin that is meant to serve eight (*snort*) will only end in tears and an uncomfortable night’s sleep.
N.B. Delicious’ Deputy Food Editor @truefoodie told me via Twitter that for a twist to this tarte tartin recipe, try putting rosemary sprigs on top of the apples.