In my last post I was mulling over pudding options for our Easter feast. In the end I made tarte tatin, a classic pudding that I thought suitable for a still-chilly early-Spring Easter such as we have had this year. I didn't make anything chocolate based; there were chocolate eggs, chocolate chicks and chocolate bunnies in abundance, I couldn't in all conscience add to the chocolate load.
I have never (to my own mild surprise) made tarte tatin before, and used a recipe from 'French Leave' by chef John Bourton Race. This is his memoir of a year spent in the south of France with his family, and is full of recpies, and stories of the people he met in his quest to discover new foods and techniques. It was written to accompany a series on television, which I never saw, having picked up the book in a charity shop some years ago, long after the series had aired. It has earned space on my kitchen shelf by virtue of a recipe for cauliflower soup which is truly delicious, and a sentence which I love, describing a particular cake as 'good to eat with a glass of champagne if you have some friends coming round for afternoon tea'. When I bought the book, this suggestion struck me as ludicrously bourgeois, but with the passage of years I now regard as a very nice idea. Thus are our lives and attitudes measured in recipes. Reasons for keeping the book are now further bolstered by this excellent Tarte Tatin which was easy to make yet looked celebratory and appetising, and disappeared very quickly on the day.
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
6 dessert apples
3 tablespoons Calvados
plain flour for dusting
200g shop bought puff pastry
Preheat oven to Gas 6/200c
With 100g of the butter, grease a heavy, circular ovenproof pan measuring 20cm across.
Peel and core the apples and cut them in half. Lay them cut side up in the pan, packing them tightly, as they will shrink on cooking.
Put the pan on the stove over a medium heat. As the butter and sugar start to caramelise pour on the Calvados and set fire to it.
Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the apples and dot the remaining butter in little pieces round the pan.
Turn down the heat a little and allow the apples to cook and caramelise to a golden colour; this takes 5-10 minutes.
Put the pan in the preheated oven and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little.
Once the pan is cool enough to touch safely, roll out the puff pastry into a circle about 1cm thick and slightly larger than the base of the pan. Lay the pastry over the cooked apples and tuck inside the edge of the pan to encase the fruit.
Put the tart back in the oven for about 15 minutes until the pastry is pale golden and puffed up.
Remove the tart from the oven, allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Place a serving dish over the tart, and quickly invert the pan onto the plate, pastry side down.
Serve immediately with generous helpings of double cream.
I used home made plum brandy left over from Christmas as we didn't have any Calvados. It worked very well, imparting a delicious flavour to the apples. I did not, however, flambe . I can steel myself to set fire to the Christmas pudding once a year, but adding further flambes to the cookery calendar seems an unnecessary fuss.
No photographs of the tarte tatin, but a few of the posies from the Easter table. The vases are SylvaC pottery. My Nana had a large SylvaC jug in her house when we were children which I always loved, predisposing me to gather these over a few years from charity shops and eBay. They are now brought out annually with the Easter decorations.