Tarte Tatin, the classic French dessert of caramelised apples served upside down on a crispy base of buttery puff pastry. Created by accident by the Tatin sisters in France's Sologne at the end of the 19th century.
120ggranulated sugarplus 2 tbsp
50gunsalted butterplus 15g extra
splash of Calvadosoptional
5-6applesGolden Delicious or Granny Smith
200gpuff pastryideally ready-rolled/thawed, if frozen
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir the water and sugar together and then, over a medium heat, leave to bubble and simmer until a light golden brown caramel forms (no need to stir at all until the caramel turns colour). Stir in the butter (and salt if using) and splash of Calvados until the caramel is smooth and immediately pour into the baking tin.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F (gas 5). Peel the apples, cut them in half, remove the cores with a sharp knife (or use an apple corer) and cut them again horizontally.
Arrange the apples upright in a circle and pack them as tight as you can (they’ll shrink while cooking), filling as much space as possible in the middle. Cut up any leftover apple and stuff them into the spaces. Dot with the extra butter (or brush with melted butter) and lightly sprinkle over the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the apples from the oven to cool slightly as you prepare the pastry.
Ideally your puff is ready rolled so there’s no need to do anything. (If the puff pastry is in a block, roll it out to about 2mm thickness and cut out a circle very slightly larger (2-3cm) than the size of the pan you’re using). Place the puff pastry circle on top of the apples, tucking in the sides as far down the edges as you can, as it will neatly hold the apples when turned over at the end. Pierce a few small holes in the pastry to allow any steam to escape – this will prevent the puff pastry from puffing up too much while baking.
Bake in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the apple juices leak around the edges.
Leave to cool. Run a sharp knife along the edges just to help release the sticky beauty. To turn out the tart, cover the pan with a large deep plate (to catch the juices) and hold the pan and plate together and flip upside down quickly, pastry side down.
Serve slightly warm either on its own, with a dollop of crème fraîche, or why not some Drambuie ice cream for a Scottish-French Auld Alliance dessert?