I made Tarte tatin for pudding the other night; it's an indulgence, but an enjoyable one - Lucius said it was the best thing I'd ever cooked, and he was still talking about it the next day. It's very rich, so not for everyday .... but it's perfect for friends, as you have to make it early so that you don't burn your mouth on the caramel.
I followed the instructions on the box of the de Buyer tarte tatin tin I bought from Lakeland; so delicious there's no need to look for another recipe. By the way, you don't need to have a special tin for this: any heavy-duty oven-proof tin would do (a Le Creuset frying pan would be ideal, provided it doesn't have a wooden handle).
This is a very good way to use up slightly-past-their-best apples; I know we're supposed only to use the freshest produce we can, but we also need a few strategies to combat waste in the kitchen. My grandmothers used to cook up wrinkled apples, and so do I.
(it says for 2-4, but I'd say this would easily do 6)
shortcrust pastry (I used ready-rolled Dorset puff, a truly excellent product)
200g granulated sugar
4-5 apples (800g is specified, probably unpeeled weight)
juice of half a lemon
Use the tin as a guide to cut a circle of pastry 2-3mm thick. Prick the pastry and put in the fridge.
Peel and core the apples. The recipe says you should end up with apple halves; that's too fiddly for me, and quarters looked fine in the finished dish. Drop them into a bowl of lemon juice as you work.
Put the butter and sugar into the pan, stirring constantly for about five minutes until the mixture starts to become golden. Arrange the apples over the caramel (pour in the lemon juice too) and keep cooking, without stirring, for 15 minutes.
Now give it five minutes in a very hot oven (250C is suggested; I used 220C on fan, and that was quite fierce enough).
Next, arrange the pastry over the apples, tucking the edges under. Put the tin back into the oven for 15 minutes (have a quick peek just before the end, you don't want the pastry to burn).
Cool the tin for 25 minutes before turning out onto a dish. It will come away easily and firmly in one piece, glued together by the caramel. Eat lukewarm.
The recipe ends with this instruction: Lovers of Tarte tatin savour it without whipped cream nor vanilla ice cream to appreciate its authentic taste. To be honest, anything with it would be overkill.
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