There is no dish that represents autumnal French comfort food like a Tarte Tatin. Slow-cooked apples from the tree, sweet caramel loaded with butter and a puff pastry that crumbles and oozes in equal measure, all come together for what has rightfully become a culinary French classic.
With over a dozen apple trees at The Lodge, and September our busiest month of the year, a visit to The Hungry Cyclist in autumn comes with Tarte Tatin guaranteed. And what could be better after a days cycling amongst the vines of Burgundy, than returning to a home abundant with the candied smells of caramelised apples and baking pastry.
Other than the ingredients the only essential piece of kit for this dish is an ovenproof heavy-based frying pan.
300g puff pastry.
puff pastry plain flour, for dusting.
6 Braeburn apples (the firmer the better but experiment with different varieties).
100g caster sugar.
100g unsalted butter (60g/2¼oz chilled and diced, 25g/1oz melted).
healthy splash of Calvados.
crème fraîche to serve.
1. Roll the pastry to a 4mm-thick round on a lightly floured surface. Cut a circle just bigger than the circumference of your pan. Prick a couple of times with a fork, and keep cool while preparing the apples.
2. Peel and core your apples and cut into quarters.
3. Heat the butter in the pan over a gentle heat until molten and frothing a little. Add the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and sugar are as one.
4. Place the apples in the pan, rounded side down, and move then about until you have no gaps and they are tightly packed. Cook over a gentle heat until the apples are browning a little. Pour in a the Calvados and light. Burn off the alcohol but not your eyebrows. Remove from the heat.
5. Take your pastry and place over the apples while tucking the edges down the inside of the pan. Bake for a further 40 mins at 180 until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
6. Remove from the oven (don't forget your oven glove) and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
7. Place a plate over the pan, and while holding the handle of the pan in one hand and the base of the plate in the other, invert and slowly pull away the pan. Serve with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.