Tarte tatin is a French classic, consisting of a delicate puff pastry base, sweet apple and a dark caramel – spectacular to present and fun to prepare. My version of this classic French recipe is laced with some expert tips for nailing this old favourite and creates something truly special that everyone will enjoy.
Choosing your apples. When it comes to fresh produce, we are spoilt for choice in Cambridge. We are lucky to have a number of small independent outlets such as Hilary’s on Mill Road, Cambridge Farmers’ Outlet, and passionate people like Lynn Miller and Joff Sharman, that can be found daily at Cambridge’s historic open air market in the heart of the city. Fresh apples are key to this dish – speak to your vendor about what’s in season, get to know and understand what each variety brings in terms of flavour and texture and you’ll never look back. As a bit of guidance to kick you off, I suggest choosing eating apples that have a good balance of sweetness and sharpness, such as Cox, Braeburn or one of the characterful local or heritage varieties you can often find in farm shops or markets.
This is a seriously impressive dessert and was always on the Midsummer House menu when we did à la carte. Still to this day, this is my favourite dessert we’ve ever done.
- 50g butter
- 110g sugar
- 2 apples
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla pod split
- 2 star anise
- 1 cm thick 15cm diameter disk of all butter puff pastry
- 14cm tarte pan or similar size non-stick pan.
- Peel, core apples and halve the apples.
- In a 14cm copper pan, lay thin slices of butter over the base and cover with an even layer of sugar.
- Arrange the spice on top of the sugar and then place the apple halves at slight angles to each other with the flat side facing upwards.
- Work the pastry slightly in your hands to warm it up.
- Start at one edge of the pan and tuck the pastry in between the sides of the pan and the apples so it’s just touching the butter and sugar layer.
- Follow this process the whole way around the pan to create a tight-fitting lid from the tarte, which becomes the base when it’s turned out.
- Cut a small steam hole in the centre of the pastry disk and then place the pan on a moderate heat.
- Watching carefully, allow the caramel to turn a light amber colour.
- Transfer the tarte to the oven and bake at 180 °c for 12 minutes or until the pastry is cooked.
- Set aside until ready to serve.
Vanilla Ice Cream
- 600g milk
- 100g milk powder
- 4 vanilla pods
- 4 egg yolks
- 100g sugar
- Put the vanilla pods, milk and milk powder into a pan and bring to boil.
- Whisk the yolk and sugar together. Pour a quarter of the milk into the yolks and whisk.
- Transfer back into the pan and cook the Anglaise until 85°c, stirring constantly.
- Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl over an ice bath. Cool and put into your ice cream machine – following the manufacturer’s instructions – then freeze.
- Place the tarte tatin into the oven for 5 minutes at 180°c. The caramel should be bubbling around the sides.
- Swiftly tip the tarte out of the pan onto a tray. As long as the tarte has been heated through, the caramel should be runny and the tarte will fall out of the pan on the first go.
- Delicately ease out the tarte onto a serving plate using two pallet knives or similar..
- Serve with two scoops of ice cream.