Stone fruit tarte tatin
French food ranges from haute cuisine to very rustic dishes. The soufflé I posted earlier in the week requires a gentle hand and close attention to the clock. Tarte tatin is a lot more forgiving. In fact, the legend goes that this classic French dish was created entirely by mistake when Stéphanie Tatin accidentally put the apples into her pie dish before lining with pastry, and ended up serving the patrons of her hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron an upside-down apple tart. I love teaching people to make it because it is so simple, requires precious few ingredients, and yet the end result is beautiful: the sum is certainly worth more than the parts.
Tarte tatin is traditionally made with firm apples, but any number of fruits can be used – if it tastes good cooked and covered in caramel, then it will probably work. I chose stone fruit as I loved the colours of the nectarines and the tartness the apricots contributed. Just remember when placing your fruit slices in the pan that the tart is made upside-down and then flipped to serve, so you are working in reverse. Begin in the centre and work out. You will need a pan that can be used both on the stove-top and in the oven so no plastic handles please!
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 sheet flaky puff pastry*
2 apricots, stoned and sliced
1 large peach, stoned and sliced
2 nectarines, stoned and sliced
Whipped cream, mascarpone or vanilla ice-cream to serve
Preheat oven to 180°C on Bake.
1. In a 26cm oven-proof frying pan heat butter and brown sugar. Cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is caramelised.
2. Remove pan from the heat and carefully arrange the sliced fruit in a circular pattern in the pan. I started with the apricots in the centre, then peaches and finally nectarines around the outside. Return to the heat and cook for a further 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile cut pastry into a circle to fit the top of the pan.
4. Place pastry over top of fruit and then place pan into oven. Bake for 15 minutes (pastry should be puffed up and golden brown).
5. Remove from oven and set aside for five minutes. Place a plate over the pan. Holding both pan and plate securely, flip the tart out onto the plate.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Best enjoyed slathered in cream, mascarpone or vanilla ice-cream (as so many things are).
* Use the best quality pastry you can find. A pastry made with real butter as opposed to catering spread will always taste better and in a dessert with so few ingredients, each one must be top quality.