Blueberry and Apple Tarte Tatin
The famous tarte Tatin is, simply put, an upside-down tart. Traditionally made with apples, this dessert has experienced many versions of itself over the years. Savoury or sweet it is a classic that is a lot easier to make than it seems. This blueberry and apple tarte Tatin is no exception, served warm with crème fraiche or ice-cream is such a delicious treat.
In this post:
The history of tarte Tatin
It was during hunting season that the Tatin sisters accidently created this beautiful dessert. The eldest of the sisters, Stéphanie, was in charge of the food at the hotel that day. There are different theories as to how the tart specifically came to about but the most popular are that the Tatin sister either, accidently, constructed the tart upside down or without the pastry base. Either way, the sisters decided to make the best out of a bad situation and so the tarte Tatin was born. Over eighty years later and the tart is more popular than ever with recipes left, right and centre on the internet and with many different versions.
The basics of a tarte Tatin
The classic dessert comes down to a couple of base principles and once mastered you can get as experimental as much as you wish. Apples are commonly used because they are a relatively dry fruit and easier to work with. Modern recipes recommend peeling fruit before adding them to the tart but it isn't the traditional method. The fruit would traditionally be left with the peel giving the tart another layer of texture. If you wish to do the same with this recipe, I would recommend using a variety of apple with a thin skin.
One principle is to reduce the amount of liquid produced from the fruit. To reduce the amount produced by the apples you can put the apples in the fridge 24 hours in advance. It isn't necessary but can help keep the pastry crisp for longer. In my opinion, I enjoy any additional fruit juice because it mixes with caramel and butter to make a delicious sauce and that is why I love this additional fruit juice produced by the blueberries in this recipe.
The next component is the caramel. It is relatively easy to make and the most important advice is to act quickly. Have your butter ready to add before starting to cook the sugar. Once your sugar has completely dissolved and turned a light amber, whip it off the heat. You want to take it off the heat before it becomes golden brown because it continues to cook once it is off the hob.
Lastly, the colder the pastry the crisper it'll be and it is why it is best to put the pastry in the freezer while you make the rest of the tart.
What apples should I use for a tarte Tatin?
The usual apples used for this recipe are either Golden Delicious or Braeburn because they can hold up well under the heat. These may be the traditional apples used but I have often made this dessert when I have apples that are a little worse for wear. For this specific Tarte Tatin, I used Gala apples because I had a couple of old ones in the fruit bowl. There's nothing like reviving some fruit with a whole lot of caramel and butter!
Puff pastry of shortcrust?
Puff pastry is the modern day go to for this dessert but the original tarte Tatin actually used shortcrust pastry. Puff pastry adds extra texture and I just generally love puff pastry. This is the best type of pastry to use if you are eating this tarte on the same day. Unfortunately, the pastry does soak up a lot of the juices from the fruit and goes a little soft after a day (but isn't any less delicious). If you want the base to hold up a little longer then shortcrust pastry is what you want to use. It's a little more robust and will stand the test of time compared to puff pastry.
What if I don't have an oven proof pan?
No problem at all! All you need to do is to transfer the caramel to an 8-inch baking tin. All the other instructions can be followed the exact same way.
What should I do with leftover pastry?
Now don't go throwing away your pastry off cuts because you can either make some jam tartlets, explained in this fish pie recipe, or you can make cheese straws:
Finely grate some cheddar and then set aside. Cut the remaining pastry into thick strips, around 2cm wide, and then brush one side with a small amount of water or melted butter. Press the grated cheese on top and then carefully twist the strips of pastry. If the pastry starts to crack as you are twisting just leave it out the fridge for a little longer to allow it to come to room temperature until it is soft enough to twist.
Bake the twists at 180C/160C fan for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown. Allow to cool and then enjoy. These cheese straws can go in the oven with the tarte Tatin so that you don't need to change the temperature of the oven just for them.
Blueberry and Apple Tarte Tatin
300g All-butter puff pastry
Plain flour, for dusting
3 Large apples
100g Caster sugar
100g Salted butter (80g chilled and diced, 20g melted)
100g Frozen blueberries
Preparing the pastry
Roll the pastry out the pastry to 3mm thick or use ready-rolled pastry that is already the right thickness. Cut a 9-inch circle from the pastry using a plate or baking tin as a guide and then prick the pastry a couple of times with a fork. Place the pastry on to a tray and then in to the freezer while you make the rest of the tart.
Preparing the apples
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan
Peel, core and quarter the apples although the apples can be cut how you wish with this recipe because the gaps will be filled with blueberries. Set the apples aside while you make the caramel.
Making the caramel
Put the sugar in an 8-inch oven-proof frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. If you don't own an oven-proof pan, don't worry, you can make the caramel in a frying pan and then transfer it to an 8-inch baking tin and then follow the rest of the instructions as normal.
Cook the sugar for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until it is an amber colour and is beginning to smoke. Remove from the heat and then whisk in the 80g of diced butter.
Assembling the tarte Tatin
Once the butter has been stirred into the caramel, it's time to assemble the tarte Tatin. Start by evenly distributing the apples in the caramel, round side down. Fill in any gaps with the blueberries and then gently press down all the fruit. Brush the fruit with the 20g of melted butter and then place in the oven.
Baking and turning out the tarte Tatin
Bake the tarte Tatin for 10 minutes to soften the apples. Remove from the oven and place the frozen pastry on top. Bake for a further 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown.
Allow the tart to come to room temperature for an hour before running a knife around the edge. Place a plate over the top of the pan and then carefully flip both plate and pan. Lift off the pan to reveal the beautiful tart that you have made.