Sunday, May 9, 2010

Les petites Tartes Tatin.

I bought four kg of Braeburn apples the week before last. I do this every year, and then never seem to be able to get through them before they go … not exactly soft, but less crunchy than they started off being.

My solution to the problem this year is individual tartes Tatin. I started off mixing up a little bit of pastry and putting it in the fridge to rest, then making some buttery toffee and pouring it into the bases of a nice deep old patty pan tray …

… then peeling half a dozen apples, halving and coring them, and carving the large ones to fit the patty pans. Then I put them on the toffee, core side up…

… and baked them in a 180°C oven until they were soft …

… which was about half an hour, I think. Then I got the pastry out of the fridge, rolled it out, and cut appropriately-sized circles (just a bit bigger than the patty pans) with one of my plain cookie cutters.

The pastry circles went on top of the cooked apples …

… and then it all went back into the oven, which I'd turned up to 200°C, until they looked cooked:

I let them cool for just 5 minutes or so, then turned them out onto a baking tray:

I was pretty amazed at how good they looked. I'd been fully expecting several of them to stick and need spooning out, but they behaved wonderfully. This is not to say they all fell out at once, several of them needed a little encouragement, but nothing drastic.

And they taste great too.

No, I didn't waste the bits of apple I had to carve off to make them fit the patty pans. They went into a pot with the tiniest dash of water and a bit of sugar …

… and were cooked until they were soft and transparent. Then I shared them out amongst 10 silicon muffin cups …

… and covered them with a sort of spongecake mixture before putting some in the oven with the tartes …

… and some in a steamer over a pot of water.

Here they are all cooked:

They and the tartes can go in my lunches this week, but I think I'll have to freeze some of them or I'll end up the size of a house.


butter (I used about 100g for this)
flour, a bit more by weight than the butter (I used 120g)
salt - about 1/4 tsp for this much pastry
half a cup of water with a tbsp of vinegar in it. You won't use anywhere near all of it.

Cut up the butter and put it in a food processor with the flour and salt. Whizz until it's breadcrumb-like.
Dribble in the water/vinegar mix slowly just until the dough starts to come together.
Tip the dough out and knead lightly. Wrap in plastic and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Tartes Tatin (makes 12)
Pastry as above (many people use sweet short pastry, but I find it too sickly)
6 eating apples (cooking apples turn to mush, and you want them to stay whole)
3/4 cup or so of sugar
a little water
50 g butter
patty pan tray (NOT non stick)

Pre heat the oven to 180°C.
Mix the sugar and butter in a small pot with just enough water to dampen the sugar. Put on the heat and cook until it starts to go brown. Quickly pour it into the bases of the patty pan tray cups.
Peel, halve and core the six apples. Put them in water that has some lemon juice added to stop them going brown. Carve off any bits that won't fit in the patty pans.
Place the apple halves, core side up, in the patty pans and place the tray in the oven. Cook until the apples are soft. Remove the apples from the oven and increase the temperature to 200°C.
Roll out the pastry and cut circles that are slightly bigger than the patty pans. If you're really anal, put the pastry circles in the fridge for another half hour or so, but I didn't.
Place the pastry circles over the cooked apple halves, tucking in the edges.
Return the apples to the oven and cook until the pastry is cooked - maybe half an hour.
Remove them from the oven, let cool for just a very few minutes, then place a flat tray over them and quickly turn the whole lot over. Give at a few thumps to dislodge any stuck tartes. You may have to use a knife or spoon to encourage some of the apples to come out.

Apple ginger sponge

apple scraps from the tarte apples, or a couple of whole apples peeled, cored and chopped.
sugar to taste
1 egg
50g butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
a little milk
1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger

Put the chopped apples in a pot with just enough water to stop them burning until they start to exude their own juice. Add sugar to your taste (I used maybe a tbsp).
Cook the apples until soft and transparent.
Place a dessertspoonful of apple at the base of as many silicon muffin cups as it takes.
Cream the butter and sugar together with the ginger.
Add the egg and mix until smooth.
Add baking powder and the flour, mix.
Add enough milk to make a soft, not quite pouring consistency, batter.
Spoon the batter on top of the apples, then place the muffin cups either in a 180°C oven, or in a covered steamer over boiling water.
Cook until the tops spring back when pressed with your finger.

Can be eaten with custard or cream for dessert, or can go in a packed lunch.


  1. btw, why vinegar in the water for the pastry? first time I heard of this.

    any recipe for the butter toffee?

    Happy Mother's Day!

  2. I'm not 100% sure about the vinegar. I think it's to do with stopping the gluten in the flour developing and making the pastry tough. Every pastry recipe I've ever seen has it.

    The recipe for the butter toffee is in the recipe for the tartes Tatin. It's just sugar and butter and a little water boiled until it starts to go brown.

    Thanks for the Mother's Day wishes - same to you.