Sunday, November 29, 2015

A lazy man’s Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tintin, in the cast-iron pan it baked in.
Tarte Tatin is the classic French apple tart, a splendid if finicky marriage of Pâte Brisée crust and Calville Blanc d'Hiver apples.

On Thanksgiving I had Calville but did not want to fuss with that crust.

So I took a leaf from Rowan Jacobsen’s book, Apples of Uncommon Character, and made his easier version, which he playfully calls “Tarte Tintin.”

The heart of Tatin and Tintin is the same: apples caramelized in butter and sugar. For Tintin, however, Jacobsen prescribes a store-bought puff-pasty crust, which need only be thawed, cut, and tucked around the apples.

The result is impressively golden brown and the caramelization is authentic and wonderful. However, I found the puff pastry a bit tough and less than satisfactory.

Calville Blanc apple
Calville Blanche
Possibly I did not buy the best pre-made dough. Given how good the apple part turned out, and how easy the recipe is overall, I am tempted to try it again with puff pastry from another source.

For the full recipe, consult Jacobsen’s book.

But here is a quick description of the process, which entails just four ingredients: Apples, butter, sugar, and pastry.

On the stovetop, caramelize the sugar in the butter. Then cook sliced apples in that mixture until the whole thing starts to meld and darken.

Tuck puff pastry dough on and around the apples. Put the whole thing in the oven where the pastry puffs and browns and the apples caramelize deeply and wonderfully.

A couple of observations:
  • The caramel needs time to set, so best not to serve this tarte piping hot. It can be made in advance and gently warmed before serving.
  • The caramel did not stick at all to my cast-iron pan, which cleaned up in that wonderful way that well-seasoned cast iron will do. A wooden spatula that I used during the cooking phases did not fare so well.
  • Callville is the apple for Tarte Tatin, but any good fine-grained variety will do if it stands up to heat. The supermarket substitute is probably Granny Smith.
I served mine with Toscanini’s Burnt Caramel ice cream.

Some recipes for the Tatin specify Pâte Sucrée, the sweet version of Brisée.

Tintin is actually Belgian.

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