How to make a tarte tatin?
The right ingredients
Before getting to the heart of the matter – the pure technique – you must first choose the right ingredients for your tatin. Made up of few elements, this tart only needs apples and dough to shine. But not all apples are suitable for tatin, you have to choose fruits that will be perfectly filled with caramel and will confine shamelessly until they take on that much sought-after amber color. We can go for the varieties Golden, Pink Lady, Queen of Pippins, Ariane, or even Elstar, which will still keep their shape and will not collapse at the bottom of the dish. We immediately forget the Granny-Smith which, although it is obviously delicious, is absolutely not suitable for a tatin because of its firmness! We prefer it as a snack or slipped into a sweet and sour salad in which it will work wonders.
What choice of dough when preparing a tatin: sweet, flaky, shortcrust… All? In fact, the dough must also absorb the caramel, which is why we avoid innovations such as Breton shortbread. If you choose puff pastry, choose store-bought products to save time – but you can also make homemade puff pastry of course – if you opt for sweet pastry, prepare it yourself, it’s worth it largely the candle. For our part, our heart invariably leans towards lamination.
We automatically anticipate any questions that could emerge. When you prepare a tarte tatin, you never use store-bought caramel, just white sugar. For what ? For several reasons: 1/ ready-made caramel costs more than basic white sugar 2/ we don’t really know what’s in industrial products – even if we read the label carefully – and above all we can’t not judge the influence of certain “thickener” type ingredients on our final tatin. In short, in a nutshell, never, ever use ready-made caramel, the reputation of French pastry depends on it. No more no less !
Preparing a tarte tatin
In the tatin game, everyone plays according to their own rules, yet not all techniques offer the same result. Concerning the caramelization of the apples which is the essential point of this recipe, several options are possible.
Either you prepare your caramel separately and leave your raw apples in quarters; either you prepare your caramel and poach your apples in a sugar-water syrup before putting them in the mold; or finally you choose to cook and caramelize your apples before putting them in the mold and cooking them again with the dough.
Each technique has its advantages and/or disadvantages.
If you prefer the caramel/raw apple duo
How to do ? You coat the bottom of your mold with homemade caramel before nicely arranging your raw apple wedges.
The advantage? Speed since you only need to cook the caramel.
Disadvantage ? The caramelization of the apples will only be superficial. Indeed, even when cooking the apples on a base of caramel, the time for the dough to cook is not enough for the fruits to be fully saturated.
If you prefer the caramel/poached apple duo
How to do ? You poach your apple quarters in a sugar-water mixture until they are soft then you place them in your mold coated with caramel.
The advantage? No real noticeable advantage since there is no time saving with this technique.
Disadvantage ? Or rather the disadvantages! The action of poaching apples is not ideal for two reasons. First, we add sugar to an already sweet fruit, so we will complete it with caramel. It’s simply sugar, on sugar, on sugar! Gluttony has its limits. Secondly, and this is certainly the most important disadvantage, when cooking in a syrup, the taste of the apples can fade slightly in the water – which we do not want – but especially since they will be “filled » of liquid, they will no longer be able to gorge themselves on caramel. You have to imagine the apple a bit like a sponge. If it is immersed in a liquid, it absorbs it completely up to its maximum. As soon as another liquid is poured on it, it will not be able to soak in, and will simply remain on the surface. Once again, what matters and what we love in a tarte tatin is when the fruit is eaten in the heart, not just on the surface.
If you prefer double-cooked caramelized apples
How to do ? You prepare a dry caramel with white sugar then once caramelization is achieved, you add lemon juice to stop the cooking and semi-salted butter for indulgence. All that remains is to add the apple quarters and cook them for a long time on each side until each quarter is caramelized (around 45 minutes). Then, you place your apples in the bottom of a dish, and cover with dough.
The advantage? The true delicacy of the tatin is found in this technique! By cooking slowly and under supervision, the caramel reaches the heart of the fruit, and promises a tasting to die for.
Disadvantage ? We’re not going to lie to you, this technique takes longer since there are two cooking times, but it’s well worth the effort!
Making a dry caramel is not rocket science, you just need to watch your pan
Caramel dry or with water
The eternal question regarding homemade caramel: is it better to prepare it dry or with water? The answer is simple: dry. For what ? The water added to the caramel simply “saves time” and slows down the caramelization. For example, instead of waiting 5 minutes, we will wait 5 minutes 30, that’s all! Also, adding water strengthens the sweet flavor of the caramel, which can unbalance the dessert. In short, making a dry caramel is not rocket science, you just need to watch your pan.
Cooking the tarte tatin
Once you have prepared your apples, you can cover them with dough. But as this tart turns over, the excess dough must be folded towards the inside of the mold for a nice visual. You can also “create” a rim all around the apples, by pressing well on the edge of the dough between the fruits and the mold to “imprison” them well. All that remains is to bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 180°C.
Once the tatin is cooked, you must be extremely careful when turning the mold over to avoid burns. Indeed, hot caramel is liquid, and can flow very quickly on the skin!
The first thing to remember before proceeding with the operation is to pay attention to the size of your serving dish. It must be significantly larger than the mold to avoid disasters. We therefore avoid plates that have a diameter of 25 cm while the mold measures 24 cm otherwise it’s guaranteed to be a hassle.
Also, at the fateful moment, we pay attention to our work plan. The space must be free of any clutter to accommodate the serving dish garnished with the hot tatin. You can also do this above the sink if you are afraid of drips.
The tarte tatin service
As for decoration, the caramelized apples are sufficient in themselves, and the tarte tatin does not need any embellishment to be sublime. Its scent speaks for itself!
As for serving, this dessert can be enjoyed warm or cold depending on taste. Served warm, the tarte tatin is divine with a quenelle of Isigny crème fraîche or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Served cold, the texture of the firmed dough contrasts nicely with the tenderness of the apples.
You now know all the secrets of the most famous upside-down pie on the planet.