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culinary bear

A technique for tartes Tatin...

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Note, the title isn't "the technique for tarts Tatin" for the obvious reason that there are many out there, some a lot worse and no doubt some a lot better than mine. This is how we do it in the pastry kitchen where I work; the individual tartes to be (eventually) served with sultana and calvados ice cream and a caramel sauce.

This decision to post this came because of the positive response to my first photo essay, on confit duck, and because of Suzi's tatin thread, where a request was made for similar treatment of this topic.

So, on with the show. You will need the following :

8 tartlet moulds

6 granny smith apples (the ratio of apples to finished tarts is always 3:4, unless you eat the apple pieces as you go)

250g caster sugar

180g water

150g cold butter

sufficient puff paste for 8 discs 1mm thick, and 20mm larger in diameter than that of your moulds

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1) Assemble your kit. I use the following:

One green board

12" cooks' knife

turning knife

steel (keep your knives sharp or they will misbehave)

and a speed-peeler

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2) Using the speed-peeler, remove a narrow band of skin from the top of the apple. Don't dig in too deep. This is best achieved by holding the peeler static in your dominant hand and turning the apple with your other hand.

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3) When you're finished, do the same to the bottom end.

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4) Again using the speed-peeler, remove a wide strip of skin from the top band to the bottom band.

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5) Work your way around until the apple looks like this (only slightly more in focus).

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6) You'll notice that your apple will have lines. Ideally, you should remove them in order to give a more rounded polished appearance to the apple segments you're going to get. So, using the flat side of the blade of your turning knife, gently scrape at the sides of the apple until you get relative smoothness. Do the same to the edges you left when you took the rings of skin off the top and bottom of the apple. Don't dig in with the blade, rather use the flat edge of the blade as if you were descaling fish.

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7) This shows the difference between a smoothed and an unsmoothed apple.

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8) In the middle of the peeling process. This shows a principle I had drummed into me as a commis chef - you must always have something to work from (the left hand bowl), something to work in or on (in this case your hands above the middle bowl) and something to work into (the right hand bowl).

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9) Cut your first apple into eight equal segments. Again you can see the above principle.

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10) You need to remove the core of each segment, whilst at the same time removing the pieces of skin at the very top and very bottom of the segment. In the picture above, this is done by cutting a left to right curve, a right to left curve, and a left to right curve, more easily explained by looking at the result below.

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11) This is a finished segment.

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12) Repeat, in this case forty seven times. The process becomes faster if :

a) you practise.

b) you have a overworked young commis to take care of such things.

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13) To make the caramel, place the sugar and 80g of the water in a heavy pan with deep sides, and ensure there are no lumps. Apply heat. due to the presence of the water, you can use a high heat from the beginning.

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14) Bring the syrup to a boil.

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15) You'll almost certainly get patches where caramelisation ocurs first, either due to hotspots from your heat source, or variations in the bottom of your pan. No matter, just very gently swirl and shake the pan form time to time to even the colour out. Be careful. If you get molten sugar on your skin, you will scar, and permanently so.

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16) You need courage here. You'll think it's burning. Your eyes will be stinging, and so they should. You must take the caramel to this stage of darkness, or the tartes will be insipid and bland, and not the lovely bittersweet things you want. There's nothing wrong with taking the pan off the heat to let the bubbles subside, givng you a better view of how far it's caramelising; just remember that it will continue to cook whilst you do this, so be quick, and careful.

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17) Remove the pan from the heat. Add the remaining 100ml water, which you will have close by in order to avoid burning your caramel while you fetch it from the far corner of the kitchen. Do this boldly, in one go, from a height of at least 50cm/18" above the surface of the sugar. This lets you avoid both potential splutterings from the pan, and the steam which will issue from the mixture (by adding it quickly your hand will be out of the way by the time the steam rises). Do not wear wooly gloves, oven mitts, or anything similar, because if you lose grip of your water container and it falls into the hot caramel, you'll be very aware of the splashes.

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18) This is the finished caramel, before the butter is added. Note the dark reddish tinge. Quickly on to the next step, before the caramel cools too much.

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19) With the cold butter on the end of a knife, swirl it into the caramel. This process is much the same as mounting a savoury sauce with butter - as the butter melts it's gradually incorporated into the water-based sauce, resulting in a stable emulsion. It's important here to move the butter about quickly enough so that as it melts, the melted butter is quickly incorporated into the sauce. If you leave the butter to melt without moving it, your sauce will split. If the caramel is too hot, the sauce will split. If the caramel is too cold, you'll be standing there for ages waiting for the butter to melt.

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20) When all the butter is incorporated and the sauce thick and glossy, add the apple segments. At this stage you should be able to coat the segments with the sauce using your hands instead of a spoon, which will minimise the possibility of damaging the segments as you mix. If it's too hot, wait a little and try again.

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21) To pack the moulds, first place a ring of four smallish segments around the side as shown.

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22) Hunt through the segments in the pot and find two larger ones. Place them in the middle as shown.

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23) Especially if the apples were large to begin with, you can sometimes get a neater result by slightly trimming the ends of the outer segments as shown. When you're happy, drizzle a teaspoon of the caramel over the apples in the mould and let it setle in.

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24) Take a puff paste disc and cut two very small slits in the centre. Fit the disc over the apples, making sure the edges are well tucked in. There will be some folds, don't worry. Don't try to stretch the pastry to fit.

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25) Use the edge of a spoon to tuck the edges right in next to the apple segments. You don't want the pastry to rise all the way off the apples and just sit there in contempt of your expertise and good efforts.

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26) Place in an oven, (in this photo a fan-assisted electric oven) preheated to 200C, for 10 minutes. After this, reduce the temperature to 180C and cook for a further 20 minutes.

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27) One of the finished tartes, unfortunately not the best-looking of the bunch but I was in a hurry; I still had a chocolate tart and some griottine cherry clafoutis to make before service. This also explains why some of the photographs are of less than stunning quality. :rolleyes:

When I next serve one I'll take more photos and put them up.

I do hope people find this fun and informative, and perhaps encourage those who haven't tried to have a go.


Edited by culinary bear (log)

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Beautiful Chef. I learned a few new things.

What is Griottine Cherry Clafoutis as opposed to regular cherry clafoutis?

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Thanks so much for making this tutorial with pictures, Allan. Tarte Tatin is my favorite apple dessert by far. With the method Ive used for Tarte Tatin, the apples are cooked together with the sugar and butter in a pan for quite a while, and then baked. This gives a very, very soft apple. I imagine that the apples in your recipe end up a little firmer in the end. Is that true? If so, do you prefer that firmer texture?

Again, thanks!

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What is Griottine Cherry Clafoutis as opposed to regular cherry clafoutis?

Clafoutis made with griottine cherries instead of fresh. Griottines are semi-confit, i.e. half-cooked, and macerated in alcohol. They are extremely more-ish, which is unfortunate given the price.

Would you like to see a picture of that?

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Thanks so much for making this tutorial with pictures, Allan. Tarte Tatin is my favorite apple dessert by far.  With the method Ive used for Tarte Tatin, the apples are cooked together with the sugar and butter in a pan for quite a while, and then baked. This gives a very, very soft apple. I imagine that the apples in your recipe end up a little firmer in the end. Is that true? If so, do you prefer that firmer texture?

Again, thanks!

They're actually quite soft, despite the relatively short cooking time. They retain a very slight texture, whose rigidity ensures that they can survive being stored for 24-48h and then rebaked to order, and then inverted from the pan successfully every time. It wouldn't do to lose one for every one we managed to sell.

This method gives more control over the caramelisation, I feel, and gives more consistency when different people make it (i.e. on my days off).

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What is Griottine Cherry Clafoutis as opposed to regular cherry clafoutis?

Clafoutis made with griottine cherries instead of fresh. Griottines are semi-confit, i.e. half-cooked, and macerated in alcohol. They are extremely more-ish, which is unfortunate given the price.

Would you like to see a picture of that?

Yes please! I may be able to use this technique for my cherry tarts.

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This is incredible, thanks so much for sharing. I'm interested in your use of Granny Smith's apples- I had always believed you would use Bramleys. Have you tried experimenting with other varieties?

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This method gives more control over the caramelisation, I feel. . .

That's a good selling point, because using the other method I mentioned, you have the caramelizing sugar in the bottom of the pan, and apples slices on top of that, so you can't really see what's happening with the caramel. Plus you cant stir so you can end up with some over-darkened spots. Next time, Im going to try your way.

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This is incredible, thanks so much for sharing. I'm interested in your use of Granny Smith's apples- I had always believed you would use Bramleys. Have you tried experimenting with other varieties?

thank you... I actually find writing this sort of thing a very good exercise in itself, too... so thanks for the encouragement. :)

Bramleys invariably turn to pap, with a texture akin to that of wallpaper paste. This is why they're so good for apple sauce and baked apples.

Russets and coxes are both good, and would be my personal choices, but granny smiths beat them for appearance.

Orleans Reinette make, to my mind, the best of all, but I know of only one tree, and you don't know where my friend lives. You may, possibly, be able to get seeds from Brogdale.


Edited by culinary bear (log)

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Thanks for the tutorial, I truly enjoyed the thread on duck confit and was wondering if there would be others. Also thanks for the spoon idea, I tuck the pastry under with my fingers but am never satisfied, now I'll do that.

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Thanks for the tutorial, I truly enjoyed the thread on duck confit and was wondering if there would be others.  Also thanks for the spoon idea, I tuck  the pastry under with my fingers but am never satisfied, now I'll do that.

Just twist your wrist and you'll find the spoon really does do a good job of getting the pastry tamed.

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Love the tutorial mode on this. I may try to do these with some phyllo in place of the puff.

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Excellent tutorial and wonderfully exact detail in the steps. Thanks for posting :smile: .

By the way, what we used in school to smooth the surface of peeled apples and pears was an abrasive green scouring pad used for scrubbing dishes (new and never used for washing dishes, of course). Very fast and easy to "sand" off a perfectly smooth surface.

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Apicio   

And so after your friend finished the main course and you have heated up your tarte tatin and you're just about ready to bring it to the table you tell your friend "Ta tarte tatin t'attende."

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McDuff   
Excellent tutorial and wonderfully exact detail in the steps. Thanks for posting :smile: .

By the way, what we used in school to smooth the surface of peeled apples and pears was an abrasive green scouring pad used for scrubbing dishes (new and never used for washing dishes, of course). Very fast and easy to "sand" off a perfectly smooth surface.

I was taught the same technique, but you know what?, as a fairly good woodworker I don't mind seeing tool marks on a piece of furniture, unless they're really ugly. The slight ridges on the apple are like the ridges left when one planes a board with a slightly crowned blade. You can see the handwork.

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Excellent tutorial and wonderfully exact detail in the steps. Thanks for posting :smile: .

By the way, what we used in school to smooth the surface of peeled apples and pears was an abrasive green scouring pad used for scrubbing dishes (new and never used for washing dishes, of course). Very fast and easy to "sand" off a perfectly smooth surface.

what a fantastic idea. :)

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Thank you culinery bear for such a wonderful tutorial. I couldn't wait to get home last night to make my first tarte tatin. I only have individual tart tins with removable bottoms so I baked the tarts in a muffin tin instead. One of the main reason that I stayed away from tarte tatin was the fact that I had to cook the apples stove top. With your method, I could avoid that step and the apples still turned out soft and full of caramel flavour after baking. I used Northern Spy because of its low moisture content and tart flavour.

Here is a picture of the finish product served with caramel parfait and caramel sauce:

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If I wasn't in such a hurry, I would have coated the edges of the parfait with some caramelized walnut pieces for some interesting texture contrast.

Thank you!

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Candy - fantastic! It's so good to know I've contributed to your making your first Tatin.

It looks really good - thank you. :)

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