I am clearly mad. What on earth would posses a normal thirty-something to have a whirl at a Tarte Tatin on a Tuesday afternoon?
A new skillet. That’s what.
Way back before Mince Pie season was up on us, I threatened to make the occasional pudding (see http://wp.me/p42Dr4-L ) to spur me into making deserts, and so break up the savoury-ness of this blog. Anyway, I bought myself a skillet that I could put in the oven the other day, and by chance my Great British Bake-Off ‘How to Bake’ book fell open at the Tarte Tatin page en-route to the recipe for Bakewell Cupcakes.
“Aha!” I thought, “A glamorous pudding I can serve to my friends when they come to visit later in the month” Word would get back up north that I could cook. Boom.
For those of you who don’t know – like me – the Tarte Tatin was accidentally invented by one of the Tatin Sisters at their hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in the 1880s. I’m guessing there are hundreds of recipes out there on the internet, so I shall not give the recipe here for fear of Mary Berry’s ninja’s coming after me.
I was slightly concerned that my new skillet wasn’t non-stick, then I realised I had the coat the bottom of the pan in a massive amount of butter. There’s no way that this was staying in the pan. Little did I know how prophetical that statement was…
A massive amount of sugar, just to hide the butter, and then I had to peel and core a load of apples. The recipe asked for Golden Delicious apples, which I don’t really like, but I trusted in the recipe and gave them a go.
All ready to start caramelising. Now, I have a confession to make: I have never made caramel before. This won’t be a shock to regular readers as prior to the start of the New Recipe Night project I hadn’t done a lot of things in the kitchen.
I think my skillet was too small. Mary’s idea of 8 inches was bigger than mine. As a result, pretty soon after I turned the gas on the buttery sugar mix started to bubble over the sides of my pan:
Without wanting to be too dramatic, I ended up welding hot apple-y sugar across half of my hob. Which I’d just cleaned… I think this is where I started to go wrong; when the caramel started to turn brown I assumed the burning smell was coming from the bits catching on the burner.
The instructions were a little vague about how brown the caramel should go, and looking back I can safely say I burned it.
I got the pastry on right, tucked it in as tightly as I dared with the boiling caramel and red hot iron pan and put it in my pre-heated oven.
Even though I knocked twenty degrees off to take into account the fan, I still think the oven was too hot, and the instructions a little vague about how long it would need. I was still quite impressed when it came out… slightly browner than I’d like around the handle obviously. Unfortunately this is the only pudding in history to look better upside-down.
I chose to turn it out onto my taking-cake-on-the-tube plate, in case I dropped the skillet on it. I was very excited to see my perfect Tarte Tatin that I could proffer at my impressed lover on his return from work…
To put it bluntly, if the Tatin Sister’s first Tarte Tatin had turned out like mine, they’d have lobbed it in the bin and gone straight to the cheese course.
When I showed my friends this, one of them said he “thought it was a sliced hunk of meat” – I can see his point, and it’s not the best picture, but that’s how my Tatin turned out. It wasn’t very nice, the apples didn’t have much flavour, the non-blackened bits were just hot and wet. The caramel was very bitter and I some how burned the pastry.
There was a time last night when I thought I might festively dust it with icing sugar, but I reconsidered – no one likes a nasty surprise under the snow!
I wish I’d had more ice cream. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, but I’m torn between trying again, trying a different recipe, and choosing something else to make. Two separate friends told me about the Roux Brother’s method of making a Tatin, which I may try. I also might try reducing the quantities of butter and sugar to save my poor hob.
Stay tuned for more New Recipe Night.
** NEWSFLASH – I HAD ANOTHER GO AND IT WORKED! ** recipe here: