Monday, July 13, 2015

Apricot Tarte Tatin - Sunshine on a Plate


A Tarte Tatin is a glorious sticky, sweet-topped, popular French treat made known by The Tatin sisters, Geneviève Caroline Tatin and Stéphanie Marie Tatin. It is one of those dishes with a picturesque, but suspect heritage. Legend has it that Stéphanie Marie Tatin, co-proprietor of a provincial French hotel, left apples for a pie cooking for too long on the stove one day. Alerted to her mistake by the smell of burning, quick-thinking Madame Tatin attempted to rescue the situation by covering them with pastry and baking the pie anyway. "After turning out the upside down tart," Wikipedia concludes, "she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert." Certainly, not the first time a chef has tried to pass off a mistake as a special.




Alas, the Larousse Gastronomique spoils this charming little anecdote with the bald fact that "the upside-down tart, made with apples or pears, is an ancient speciality of Sologne and is found throughout Orléanais." But still, we can still be grateful to les soeurs Tatin for bringing it to wider attention and inspiring such lovely creations as my Apricot Tarte Tatin and it just goes to show recipes are always more charming with a great story.



Apricot Tarte Tatin

Ingredients
  • 75 grams (2 ¾ ounces) white sugar
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • a pinch of sea salt 
  • 40 grams (1 ½ ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
  • a pinch of Ceylon cinnamon or the scraped seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
  • about 300 grams fresh apricots, halved and stoned (about 7 or 8 apricots) NOTE: as too much liquid spoils the pastry, it is better to use ripe but not soft fruits here
  • 375 grams (13 ounces) sheet of puff pastry
  • some plain wheat flour for dusting your work surface
  • crème fraiche or good-quality vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

In addition
  • heavy-based ovenproof frying pan or Tarte Tatin pan from Le Creuset
  • rolling pin 




Preparation
  1. For caramelzing the apricots, put the sugar along with about 2 tablespoons of water and the salt into a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan (I like to use my specialty Tarte Tatin pan here from the lovely people at Le Creuset) and set it over a medium heat. Cook until the sugar first melts and then caramelizes and turns golden brown. Do not stir the sugar but swirl it around the pan every now and then.
  2. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the butter with a wooden spoon. Then stir in the vanilla or the spices (if using). The caramel will be extremely hot so watch out.
  3. Continue stirring for 2 to 3 minutes as the caramel cools and thickens. It will look oily and separated to begin with, but will become smooth as you continue stirring. When the caramel is smooth, carefully arrange the apricots on top, cut-side up. Leave to cool for 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit).
  5. Unroll the puff pastry sheet on your lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll it out. Cut out a circle slightly larger than your pan. Place a dinner plate on the pastry and cut around it.
  6. Gently slide the pastry on top of the apricots and push down the sides. Prick the surface to allow steam to escape while baking.
  7. Bake the Tarte Tatin for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown and the apricots are cooked. 
  8. Using oven mitts, remove the pan from the oven. Be careful, as the pan as will be extremely hot.
  9. Leave the tart to stand for a few minutes to allow it to settle, then loosen the edges and place a large cake plate on top of the pan. Very carefully, but quickly, turn it over, using a folded dry tea towel to help you hold it, and allow the Tarte Tatin to drop gently on to the serving plate.
  10. Best served warm, with crème fraîche or a good-quality vanilla ice cream.



As far as the pastry is concerned, I like to use an easy puff pastry in summertime but some chefs (including Julia Child) go for the pâté sucré. At the end of the day, the pastry is really nothing but a humble vehicle for the gorgeous fruit base. If you serve the Tarte right away, puff pastry seems to be the way to go as it crisps up beautifully well, which makes a lovely contrast to the butter-soft fruit above.

Finally, there is the question of whether you add other flavors. Some bakers do not add anything more, while some recipes add vanilla seeds or even a bit of cinnamon. Since you all know that I can easily be considered a bit of a spice fan, I sometimes add fresh Ceylon cinnamon or even add a bit of Speculaas Spice Mix (Speculaaskruiden - my recipe can be found here) but you can go with whatever you like.




A Tarte Tatin is something of a teatime classic and it is definitely one easy recipe. It is all about the flavor of the seasonal fruit used, the crisp pastry, and that sweet, buttery caramel topping, holding the whole lot together. And it is probably at its best cut into slices and eaten while still warm. If you like to top it with a really good-quality vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche, then go for it, but, as usual, I think simplicity is best and we enjoy it plain, fresh from the oven.

No matter which way you serve this lovely tart, you will not regret having this amazing French recipe in your repertoire of easy and delectable summer desserts.




27 comments:

  1. SERIOUSLY! This does look like sunshine on a plate! Beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Cali Cuisine! Glad that you like one of my favorite summer time tarts.

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  2. Im agree with you:)
    I adore apricots in my last summer I made apricots jam and always Im happy when I serve in my toasts!
    This tart look absolutely georgeous and the pictures are beautiful!

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    1. Gloria, very kind of you! Thank you, dear friend! Aren´t apricots just the best?!

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    2. Yes I adore apricots and still we are eating the apricots Jam I made in last summer!

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  3. Absolutely gorgeous :) And apricots are in season right now - need to make this!

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    1. Mardi, merci beaucoup! Looks like you are having a blast in France and the lovely UK - am seriously jealous, my dear!

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  4. Hi Andrea, my husband loves apricots, I know he would really enjoy this. Beautiful photos!

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    1. Cheri, good, than your husband and I agree on this lovely summer fruit!

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  5. One of the first things I made at my first French cooking workshop was Tarte Tatin. With apples, of course. I thought it was such a fabulous and delicious recipe that I still make it for special occasions and dinner parties. Using puff pastry makes the entire process easier and is a great idea. Fresh apricots, lovely. We don't have them yet but will soon. Just a luscious post, Andrea.

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    1. Mary, of course, you did the apple version and we LOVE that pone too - one of my most "proud" moments being that I managed an apple version in a strangers kitchen in a house in Normandy with crème fraîche from Isigny...a dream come true...but nowadays I love playing around with different kinds of stone fruit and add a bit of real vanilla or Ceylon cinnamon and we LOVE that version too, although, who knows what Julia would have thought...
      Love & hugs, Andrea

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  6. I love apricots and your tart looks delicious. Apricot season is over here in California, we now have peaches and nectarines .

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    1. Gerlinde, I have made this kind of Tarte Tatin even with summer plums and small peaches - as long as they are not too ripe, this recipe will work just fine.
      Are you back from France yet?
      Hope you had a wonderful time,
      Andrea

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  7. Wow, Andrea, Aprikosen Tarte Tatin ist eine tolle Variante, die natuerlich in eurem Garten so wunderbar das Sonnenlicht reflektiert. Soooo schoene Fotos!!! In diesem Jahr macht sich die Sonne hier rar und es regnet häufig - fast wie in Deutschland :-) Ich habe ueber 20 Pfund Pfirsiche gepflueckt, glaube aber, dass die zu saftig wären fuer diese Art von Tarte... Die Aprikosenzeit ist leider schon vorbei...
    Einen ganz lieben Gruss!

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    1. Liebe Wally, es gibt zur Zeit so viel Obst hier, ich weiß gar nicht wo ich anfangen soll mit dem Backen - einfach nur schön und lecker der Juli! Diese Tarte funktiniert auch wunderbar mit Pfirsichen, nur nicht zu reif und zu saftig, pass´ bloß mit dem heißen Karamell auf...aber ansonsten würde ich gerne hören, wie dir eine Pfirsich-Tarte-Tatin schmeckt.20 Pfund Pfirsiche hört sich paradiesisch an!
      Liebe Grüße aus Bonn - es soll am Freitag wieder sehr, sehr heiß werden.
      Andrea

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  8. That does look like sunshine on a plate! I really need to try making a tarte tatin, they sound so delicious no matter what fruit is used. love this apricot variation!

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    1. June, that is so nice, thank you my dear! I will hop over for a visit later today, as it is a totally crazy week this week but hopefully by Saturday, things will have eased up somewhat.

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  9. Ganz schön! I love the story about the Tatin sisters - and generally prefer the charming stories over the truth! (We always say, "Don't let the facts spoil a good story!") It is just like with my Crêpes Suzette; the stories are charming!

    I love the freshness of this tatin, Andrea. And, as I said on Facebook, I will make it soon and share photos with you! Liebe Grüße, David

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    1. Dear David, then I am looking forward to all those photos of your delightful tarte - I am sure it will be just picture perfect - and, yes, you are right about the facts and spoiling a good story...
      Liebe Grüße,
      Andrea

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    2. I was so excited to see apricots - ripe but firm - at today's farmers market! Tarte Tatin is on the menu for dinner with friends on Tuesday! I will definitely send photos!

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    3. Dear David, how nice of you to think of my tart when shopping at your favorite market! I am honored - if you find the time to make this summery tart and take pictures, by all means, send them to me! I would love to know whether you, Mark and your guests enjoy this recipe! Andrea

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  10. Replies
    1. Colette, my dear, this is an easy enough recipe for summer time and you would love this wonderful French inspired dessert!
      All the best,
      Andrea

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  11. This is such a beautiful tart, and it is so sunny and cheerful.

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    1. Gaye, so very nice of you, thank you very much! Once you have the sweetest apricots, just make sure they do not ripen too much and you are all set - this recipe is all about using a seasonal fruit at just the right time of the year.

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  12. Hab gerade erst entdeckt, dass du Bonnerin bist. Wir Bonner Foodblogger machen ab und an einen Stammtisch. Wenn du Lust hast, dann mail mir einfach unter karin@bonngehtessen.de

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    1. Lieben Dank, Karin, werde mich bei dir melden!
      Andrea

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