Tarte Tatin of Apples

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For this you will need a heavy-based pan about 20 cm in diameter, preferably with sloping sides. Better kitchen shops sell pans specifically for this dish, with a wide lip to make turning out the tarte easier, but you can use a good ovenproof frying or sauté pan.

Ingredients

  • 80 g best-quality unsalted butter, chilled
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 6 firm apples (ideally Spartan or Cox’s Orange Pippin)
  • 150 g puff pastry or shortcrust pastry (good-quality bought)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Dash of milk

Method

Line the base of the pan with the chilled butter, forcing it down as you go. Sprinkle the sugar on top to cover and set aside.

Peel and halve the apples, removing the core with a teaspoon. Arrange the apple halves upright, side by side, around the inner side of the pan, as tightly as you can (force them in if you have to). You should have something that resembles a ring with a hole in the middle. Now shape 2 apple halves to squeeze in the centre. It should be very compact.

Put the pan over a high heat to start caramelizing the base, but taking care not to burn it. Keeping it more or less horizontal, roll the pan around in a circle to ensure even coloration of the sugar; the apple arrangement will lose its shape a little, but there’s no need to worry, just reshape it as you go. When the caramel has reached the dark amber stage, take the pan off the heat, allow to cool and reshape.

When it is quite cold, preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3½. Roll out the pastry to about 5 mm thick and cut out a circle just big enough to cover the apples and tuck down between them and the pan without touching the caramel. Make an egg wash by mixing the beaten egg and milk, and brush the pastry all over with it. Bake in the preheated oven until golden, about 25–30 minutes.

Leave to cool slightly out of the oven. Shake gently to make sure none of the tart is sticking to the bottom of the pan, then place a large serving plate on top and turn pan and plate together quickly. The tart should drop gently on to the plate. The apples will almost certainly need another bit of neatening rearrangement. Leave to cool, so the caramel hardens, before serving.

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