25 Oct 2012

My British take on French Tarte Tatin

Travelling is all about opening your mind and taste buds to other cultures and foods. Discovering new things, getting out of your comfort zone, that’s what makes a traveller happy.

Well, living abroad is a little like travelling, but every day of your life. You eat food you might have never heard of before, cab drivers call you “honey” even if they don’t know you, it can take you an hour to explain your bathroom floods problems to your landlord because you don’t know any of the plumber/bathroom specific vocabulary….
As an expat, you’d better be open to experiencing new things on a regular basis, or you’re in for lots of frustration and most likely a single ticket back home.

My name is Pauline, I’m French and I’m passionate about food. Three years ago, I came to live in London, I ate cheesecake for the first time and it changed my life.
My mouth full of the smooth sweet cream cheese filling, my mind somewhere over a rainbow, I decided I would start baking and, to fully embrace this new country of mine, I would learn how to make British cakes. 
Since then, I’ve filled my shelves with books on traditional British cakes and bake a new cake every week. Chewy cookies, Sticky toffee puddings, Flapjacks, Whoopie pies, Pavlovas,…all these wonders I had never seen or tasted before have become my playground.

I was thrilled when Paul (from the wonderful travelling blog The Bald Hiker) offered me to feature a French recipe on his blog. As my baking is all about mixing French and British cultures, I thought a French Tarte Tatin with a British twist would be a perfect pick.

French tarts usually have the pastry underneath the fruits, but the Tarte Tatin is cooked with the pastry on top of the fruits, like a British apple pie… Why is that? Intriguing mystery indeed!

French tatin tatin

Come closer, listen carefully, I am about to tell you a delicious story:
Once upon a time, the Tatin sisters who were cooking a traditional apple tart somewhere in France Profonde, burnt the pastry by over cooking the tart.
Going in for the kill, the two sisters decided to save the now caramelized apples from the burnt tart. They put them back in a dish, covered them with a new pastry layer, and cooked the whole thing again.
Once cooked, they turned the tart upside-down again to put the pastry back at the bottom and served their Tarte Tatin. That’s how The Tatin Sisters invented by mistake one of the most iconic French desserts.

Even if the Tarte Tatin’s pastry is cooked on the top of the tart as it is in a British apple pie, the end result is completely different. Tarte Tatin is about caramelized fruits, sweetness, over indulgence, comfort food pushed to the extreme.
Add to it two of the ingredients I’ve discovered in British baking and that are now amongst my favourites – ginger and sour cream – and you end up with a “mind-blowing dessert” (dixit my housemates who got to eat the Tatin below).
Even though Tarte Tatin is one of my favourite French desserts, it was the first time I baked one (I have been too busy baking British cakes for the past three years!).

Suddenly I am wondering: will it feel like an everyday adventure when, one day, I go back to live in France? This question will have to wait for an answer, because I’ve got lots of other recipes to try before I go anywhere! 

tarte tatin

Apple and Ginger Tarte Tatin

The ginger gives a subtle kick to the tart that goes wonderfully with the sweetness of the caramelized apples, deliciously balanced by the soureness of the sour cream. I’ve obviously also used tangy British cooking apples, which are perfect for this dessert.
And the super bonus of this tart is that it’s really easy and quick to make!

Ingredients:

8 British cooking apples (I used Cox and Breaburn apples)
160g butter
160g golden caster sugar
2 balls of stem ginger in syrup very finely chopped + 3 tablespoons of the syrup
3 good pinches of ground ginger (approx. 2 tablespoons in total)
1 sweet short crust pastry


Make the tart:
  1. Preheat your oven at 180°C.
  2. Cover the bottom of a metallic pie dish (metal will help the fruits to caramelize) with 1/3 of the caster sugar, 1/3 of the butter cut into small pieces, 1 tablespoon of ginger syrup and a pinch of ground ginger
  3. Peel the apples, remove the cores, quarter them and firmly pack a layer, rounded side down, at the bottom of the dish
  4. Cover with another 1/3 of the sugar, 1/3 of the butter cut into small pieces, half of the chopped stem ginger, another tablespoon of ginger syrup and a good pinch of ground ginger
  5. Stack another layer of apples (try to fill all the gaps left by the first layer), and cover with the rest of the butter pieces, the sugar, the stem ginger, the ginger syrup and ground ginger
  6. Unroll your pastry to a thickness of approximately 3 millimetres and cover the apples with it. Push the edges in the dish (as you would tuck in the blankets on a bed) 
  7. Cook for 35-45 min until the pastry is nicely golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 15min before turning upside-down onto a plate. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.

ginger apple tart

french tarte tatin

ginger apple tarte tatin

french tatin tart

french apple pie

tarte tatin

french caramelised apple pie

What's on the drinks menu Alex?
Our New Indulgence Expert Associtate Alex gives us his drinks tips for our tarte tatin.

Being both delicious and very sweet with its caramelised fruits, tarte tatin is one of the favourite French desserts. Therefore, the wine has to match it perfectly.
I recommend five options:
  • a Gewurztraminer from Alsace,
  • a sweet Vouvray to be sweeter (loire valley),
  • a pink champagne,
  • a muscat from Spain
  • a cider
If you can read French and want more tips from Alex on how to pick a perfect wine to accompany your desserts, visit his website here

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