Spring is in the air and the Willow trees by the river Marne have all donned their green cloaks and are dipping their graceful branches in the water.
I love this time of year when everything is renewed and the long hot summer is waiting around the corner, but I could not end my winter selection without including certain dishes, and although the delicious ‘Tarte Tatin’ can be eaten all year round, I prefer to eat it warm and comforting.
Having never been a fan of traditional apple pie, this French ‘upside-down’ version wins hands down in my opinion, and it is surprisingly easy and cheap to make.
The marriage of the crisp light pastry and the gooey caramelised apple is one made in heaven……..
So why not indulge in a little taste of heaven this weekend ………
200g of pate sucrée (sweet pastry) use recipe below but add 1 tablespoon of castor sugar (2 cuillers de soupe de sucre en poudre) to the flour before mixing.
6 cooking apples peeled and cored and sliced into 6
50g castor sugar (sucre en poudre)
Make the pastry and leave to chill, taking it from the fridge 10 minutes before rolling out.
Melt the butter and sugar together in an 8” (20cm) ovenproof frying pan
When the mixture is golden brown add the apples tossing them in the syrup until they are well coated and cook them for a few minutes until they begin to caramelise
Roll out the pastry until it is a little larger than the pan, then carefully place over the apples, tucking in the edges so that it fits neatly (take care not to burn yourself on the syrup!)
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees/gas mark 6 for around 40 minutes or until the crust is golden
Leave to cool for 5 minutes then place a serving plate on top of the pastry and invert the tart so that the caramelised apples are on the top
The aroma when this is cooking is literally mouth watering……………
I serve this with a little dollop of crème fraiche on the side, but if you want to be a bit more British – then a good quality vanilla ice-cream works a treat (in my opinion custard/crème Anglaise is too sweet to serve with this particular tart)
How to make perfect Pastry
200g/7oz plain flour (Aldi was my favourite in the UK, but Francine ‘farine de ble pour tous usages’ works well)
80g TREX (100g margarine – TREX has a higher water content so 20% less is needed)
1 egg yolk (jaune)
2 dessertspoons (cuilleres de soupe) of ice cold water
The three main factors for making a good pastry are :-
The speed of making it – pastry does not like to be over handled
The temperature – the cooler the room, your hands, the surface, and the water the better.
The amount of moisture – the drier the pastry, the more light and crumbly (short) it is – even if it is more difficult to work with and may need patching up, it is worth it for the end result. The wetter, the more you will break your teeth!
Wash your hands and rinse in cold water
Sieve the flour into a large, preferable pottery mixing bowl
Chop in the TREX (or equivalent) with a cold knife, then quickly work it into breadcrumbs using the tips of your fingers only and lifting the mixture from the bowl as the work it, to get as much air in the mixture as possible
Cut the egg yolk into the mixture again using a cold knife
Add the water (direct from the fridge) and mix all together with a cold knife
Quickly draw the mixture into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to ‘rest’ for at least 30 minutes.