Friday, March 27, 2015

Daring Bakers' Challenge March 2015: Tarte Tatin

Welcome to March in New England...
Come on in and see what is cooking.

This month's daring Bakers' Challenge is a classic. For the March Daring Bakers’ Challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.
The last time I made a tarte tatin was in culinary school about a thousand years ago. I admit that I have become lazy with puff pastry and buy it when I need it. I justify my laziness by buying really good quality pastry,  Dufours,  and saying probably correctly that it is better than any I could make. But here is Korena daring us to make it from scratch and giving an "easy to use" recipe.

I loved the rough puff pastry recipe and it will be a keeper. I had some definite challenges with the rest of the recipe. For the recipe that we were given, Click here

I started by making a Pear Tarte Tatin. I used the recipe and had trouble right off the bat with the sugar/butter mixture crystallizing. I also did not cook the pastry long enough so the dessert was a bit doughy.

Pear Tarte Tatin
I did a bit of reading. I went back to my basic knowledge of how to work puff pastry and I saw this hilarious video of Julia Child making a Tarte Tatin. Click here if you want to see this video. She flips the tarte at 18:00 minutes and that is where your confidence will balloon. She is classic like the tarte tatin and a testament to life's beautiful imperfections.Watching her flip that tart onto the plate made me laugh out loud. I am a huge Julia lover mainly for her enthusiasm and her attitude towards fearless cooking. I was laughing with love. So, I went back for another try. I decided to stay classic this time. There is a reason the tart is done with apples. They have flavor and firmness. I used the puff pastry recipe from Korena. I just love this puff pastry and may never buy Dufours again. The only change I made was with the butter. I grated the butter and then put it in the freezer for 10 minutes before mixing. I find this method makes the mixture stay chilled and I don't have to work the mixture as much because the butter is already in small pieces.



For the filling, I made a few changes. I added 2 tablespoons of water to the cup
of sugar in the saucepan and cooked that on low heat until the sugar dissolved.

Then I increased the heat to high and cooked the sugar mixture without stirring until it became a light amber color, swirling the pan to evenly distribute the caramel color.
Then I lowered the heat to medium and added the butter that I had cut into tablespoon portions and let that melt, stirring all the while with a wire whip.

I add the apples and cooked according to Korena's instructions.

I let the mixture sit off the heat for about ten minutes while I rolled out the puff pastry and preheated the oven.

 I heated the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit which is different from the recipe. I have always cooked puff pastry at a high temperature to keep the butter from melting and weighing down the pastry before the trapped air pockets in the pastry have a chance to expand. I covered the apples with the pastry, cut the air vents and popped that pan in the oven. After fifteen minutes of cooking, I lowered the heat to 375 degrees and continued to bake it for another fifteen minutes. The pastry got a beautiful deep golden color and a crisp puffy texture. I was feeling good about my second try.

 I  waited for the bubbling caramel to subside and then flipped it onto the plate.

 It was really pretty.

 I served the tart with a scoop of candied ginger ice cream and I was transported to dessert heaven. 

My husband ate half the tart and I am sure he was not just being kind...he loved it. I did not mention the caloric content because he looked so happy. 
Tarte Tatin is a challenge. I hope you will try it but my advice is not to try it on the fly, that is, read about it, look at pictures and give yourself plenty of time. The classic dishes are beautiful, thoughtful  concoctions that will, I guarantee, give you a sense of place in the world. 

Looking for adventure? Make a Tarte Tatin. Thank you Korena!