The Great British Bake Off is back on BBC and I have my UPC box set to record. I've loved this programme since it first appeared on our googlieboxes, but this year it's even better thanks to Caítriíona from the blog Wholesome Ireland. She had the bright idea of running a parallel competition whereby Irish baking fans tackle the same challenge as the contestants. The competition is called the Great Irish Bakeoff and you can follow the discussion via the #GIrishBO hashtag on Twitter.
This weeks challenge was either a Treacle Tart (the technical challenge) or a classic apple Tarte Tatin. I was going to be at home over the weekend, so I decided to bake the latter. Once I got back home (after two weeks away for work), I went straight to my Michel Roux books, where I found his recipe for Tarte Tatin.
Roux's recipe is actually quite a good bit easier to follow than the methods I saw on Episode 3. Each contestant made their syrup or caramel separately, even leading to 7 ruined syrups in the case of one contestant. Roux's recipe is really more of a "one-pot" technique, easier to execute but the results are superb.
You can either make your own rough-puff pastry (relatively easy actually), or purchase a good quality ready to roll puff pasty. Roux's recipe calls for 5 apples, but I ended up requiring only 3 (and I was packing in the slices at that).
Classic Apple Tarte Tatin
Rough puff pastry, or ready to roll puff pastry
120g butter, softened
160g castor sugar
3-5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Take a 23cm/9 inch cake tin or pie dish - the key thing is that is has to be sealed and able to sit on a cooker top. Take the butter and spread it out evenly in a thick layer in the tin. Pour the sugar on top and make sure it is distributed equally.
Arrange the apple slices in a neat pattern on top of the butter and sugar layer. I started with a rosette in the centre of the tin, and then filled in the outer ring with more slices. Take the chilled pastry and roll out until it more than covers the cake tin. Lay the pastry carefully on top and trip around the edge, leaving about 1cm overhang. Cover the tin and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 20 mins.
Preheat your oven to 180 C and turn a cooker ring to a medium heat. Remove the tin from the fridge, uncover and place on top of the cooker ring. After a while the butter will melt and a caramel will start to form. You can use a knife to carefully lift up the pastry lid to keep an eye on the caramel. After about 10 mins, roll up the pastry edges to form a seal on the tin, making sure to prick plenty of holes in the pastry lid and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 25 mins, or until the lid is golden brown.
|Just out of the oven - look at all that caramel|
I used a Pyrex baking dish to hold my tarte tatin, which turned out to be a great decision as it meant that I could see the apple slices and caramel in action. When I took the tarte out of the oven, it looked like I had too much caramel, but I decided to hold faith in the recipe.
I left the tarte to cool for about 5-10 minutes before I inverted it onto a serving plate. Sugar and caramels get incredibly hot when cooking so take great care when inverting the tarte. I placed a large flat plate over the pastry and quickly flipped the dish over. Thankfully, all my fruit came out without sticking and I ended up with a near perfect execution. My careful rolling of the pastry lid had paid off, as it had formed a natural lip on the tarte, holding the caramel from spilling out.
|Tarte Tatin turned out - with no disasters|
Roux recommends serving the tarte straightaway, but I have learned to be wary of hot caramel, so I left the tarte sit and rest while we ate our dinner. Once we were ready, I carefully cut some slices, taking great pleasure in watching the delicious apple-caramel oozing out. I've also included a shot of the underneath of the tarte, just to prove that I didn't suffer from the dreaded "soggy bottoms".
|A slice of delicious Tarte Tatin|
|No soggy bottom here - just lovely flakiness and caramel|
So there you have it, a classic French Tarte Tatin, made according to the recipe of one of the great modern French chefs. That might make it sound intimidating, but it's quite easy to make, and there is little risk of ruining your saucepans with burnt caramels :)