Tarte Tatin, an upside-down pastry, is, like many inventions, the (delicious) result of an accident.
It was created at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, a small town about 160 kilometers south of Paris, in the 1880s.
The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin.
One day Stéphanie was too caught up in her work and forgot she had left some apple-pie filling in the oven.
The oven was on, and the filling was being baked!
In a split second, she came up with the idea of putting a piece of puff pastry on top of the beautifully caramelized mixture of apple, butter and sugar.
She then let the baking process continue.
The upside-down apple pie was an unexpected hit and became the hotel’s signature dish.
Leo Choi, sous chef at Invisible Kitchen, prefers green apples to red ones, which contain too much water and so make it difficult for the pie to stay in shape.
Choi said the French love Reine des Reinettes and Calville apples, while he has chosen the Granny Smith variety from Australia for its tartness and crisp texture.
Not only apples but pears, peaches, pineapples and even tomatoes or onions can be used as the main ingredient in a tarte Tatin.
One tip is to dry the vegetable or fruit, using a food dehydrator, before cooking.
Alternatively, refrigerating the fruit — apple slices, for example — overnight or baking it for two or three hours between 60C and 70C will also dry it sufficiently.
6 Granny Smith apples225 g sugar55 g butter300 g puff pastry1 teaspoon cinnamon powder50 ml water
1. Remove the skin and core of the apples. Cut each into 8 slices. Place the slices into a food dehydrator for two to four hours.
2. Mix the apple slices with the cinnamon powder.
3. Put the water and sugar into a pan and cook the mixture until golden yellow. Add the butter to it after turning off the stove.
4. Evenly place two layers of apple slices into the mixture of caramelized sugar and butter. Fill all gaps. (Tip: The tarte will be sweeter when the slices and caramel are heated for a longer time together.)
5. Press the puff dough until about two-thirds of a centimeter thick. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Cut it into a circle with a diameter 1 cm greater than the diameter of the pan.
6. Place and lightly press the puff pastry onto the caramelized apple slices. Bake the Apple tarte Tatin in a preheated oven at 200C for 30 minutes.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 30.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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