For New Year, we had T's brother, and 2 of their cousins staying in the flat. We had tickets for the outdoor concert in Princes Street Gardens, and the temperature was forecast to be -5C that night. With a few extra mouths to feed, and a warming meal needed, I decided to make a roast dinner followed by tarte tatin.
I attempted a tarte tatin last summer. It didn't go well. The pastry was undercooked and underwhelming, and the caramel wasn't sticky enough. I was determined that this one would be better, and decided to go with trusty old Leiths' recipe.
The first thing I noticed is that the pastry wasn't puff, or even ordinary shortcrust. It had rice flour as well as wheat flour. The pastry came together quite easily, who needs a food processor when you have a pastry blender? I rolled it in to a large disc between two sheets of baking paper.
While the pastry was resting in the fridge, I chopped two cooking apples, and melted sugar and butter together in a frying pan. Leiths said to add lemon zest, but I decided a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg would be a bit more seasonal and warming. I layered the apple slices around the pan, and tried my best to make them look neat and even, but the in the end my presentation efforts were thwarted by my short attention span, and unwillingness to dip my fingers in boiling caramel.
Once the caramel had cooled slightly, I put the pastry lid on, and left it in the fridge until we'd finished our roast dinner. Once it went in the oven, the smell of the apples and caramel, with a hint of the spices, was wafting around the flat. It smelt great, but would the pastry be cooked? Would the caramel be ok, and would the cooking apples still be sour?
When it came time to turn the tart out on to a plate, it was obvious the pastry was cooked. The apples looked soft and sweet, and the caramel looked dark and glossy - success! Except, the very caramel in the centre of the tart was a little burnt. So not quite perfect, but near enough.
It was delicious served warm with a scoop of natural ice cream (plain cream flavour, no vanilla. I bought it by accident once and am now converted.) The spices warmed it up even more, and the caramel was almost right (apart from the burnt bit). The apples were soft, but still retained their shape and a bit of crispiness. We got through most of it that night, but I've been enjoying the leftovers reheated with ice cream. Or on their own.