There’s something pretty impressive about a tarte tatin – not only does it impress taste-wise, but it really does show off a bit of expertise in the kitchen, if I do say so myself.
To start with, there’s the caramel – a tricky little beast at the best of times. You don’t want it taken off the heat too soon or it’ll be insipid and sickly sweet. Nor do you want to take it so far that it burns and becomes bitter. There’s that perfect moment just before it burns when it’s dark and richly smoky in flavour.
Then there’s the pastry – yes, of course, you can use store-bought puff pastry (and most people do), but I prefer to make my own rough puff pastry; it gives me an extra kick of pride when it comes to serving it. Rough puff pastry isn’t overly difficult to make, but you do need to observe the rules of keeping it nice and cold while you’re working with it, as well as not over-processing and losing the layers of buttery goodness!
Then, of course, there’s the much dreaded step of inverting the tart after it’s cooked, hopefully avoiding spillages and misplaced pieces of fruit. But if you can manage all of that, then it’s pretty easy to master… hehe.
I was inspired initially by The Hairy Bikers’ recipe, but changed some of the ingredient amounts and added in a few other elements. The result was an absolutely beautiful dessert with crispy pastry (caramelized around the edges), tart flavoursome apricots and crunchy toasted almonds for a bit of texture. There was also a very subtle flavour of orange blossom water that I decided to add in last minute, although I realise it’s not to everyone’s taste.
This delicious fruit tart proved an absolute winner with the family, so much so that I made again it a couple of weeks later. Thought I’d better make the most of the apricots while they were still around! Enjoy!
- 100g (3.5 oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 50g (1.75 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 300g (10.5 oz) fresh apricots, halved and stoned (about 8 apricots)
- 3 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds, divided
- Optional: A few drops of orange blossom water
- 375g (13 oz) sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, (or use this recipe and halve it)
- Softly whipped cream or ice cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
- Place the sugar in an ovenproof frying pan that measures around 8 or 9 inches (20-23 cms) in diameter and set it over a medium heat. Cook until the sugar starts to melt. Once that happens start swirling the pan around (don't stir it) to keep the sugar moving so that it doesn't burn. Once it turns golden brown (don't take it too dark as it still needs to cook in the oven) take it off the heat and straight away add in the butter and salt, gently stirring with a wooden spoon (be extremely careful that you don't burn yourself).
- Keep stirring for 2-3 minutes - you'll find the caramel will cool and thicken quite quickly, and it will look oily and separated. Keep stirring and it should become smooth and toffee-like (if you need to return the pan to the heat momentarily to soften the caramel, do so). And don't worry if the caramel remains a little separated, as mine did - it won't matter once it is cooking.
- Start (very carefully) arranging the apricots over top of the caramel, cut-side down.
- Scatter some of the almond slices over top and in the crevices, then leave to cool for 20 minutes.
- Unroll the puff pastry (or your home-made rough puff pastry) sheet on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll it out until it is in roughly a round shape, and about 3mm thick. Ensure it is at least as big as the frying pan (it should be roughly the size of a dinner plate) and trim the edges with a sharp knife to make a neat circle.
- Gently place the pastry over top of the apricots and tuck in the edges around the outer-most apricots. With a sharp knife, make a few slits on the surface to allow steam to escape.
- Bake the tarte tatin for around 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown and you can see the caramel boiling up around the edges.
- Very carefully remove the pan from the oven using oven mitts or cloth to hold the handle of the pan which will be extremely hot.
- Leave the tart to stand for around 10 minutes to allow it to settle, then loosen the edges by running a palette knife around the edges. Place a large serving plate (preferably with a raised edge to capture any stray juices) over top of the pan and very carefully, but quickly, turn it over, You may need to jiggle the pan a bit to release the tart onto the serving plate.
- Serve while still warm with softly whipped cream or ice cream. PS: If you find the apricots are too tart, drizzle a little runny honey over top when serving.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting