Quick Recipes –Tarte Tatin

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So I am a baking fan.  And yes, I can make my own pastry doughs, crèmes, fondant, crusts, ganaches, and all that rot.  But I know that most of these take more time than I have to spend in an evening.  So, I have decided to find recipes for pastries that can be done in about an hour, like my eye glasses.  First up on the chopping block: Tarte tatins.
A tarte tatin is a French pastry.  It is basically an upside down tart, normally with apples, where the “bottom” is caramelized sugar and butter, then sliced fruit, then pastry on top.  It is served with cream, and is best served warm enough to melt the cream on contact.  It is a lovely treat with very few ingredients, so I knew that it could be done well on the first try.  Several pastry sites and blogs have the tarte tatin on them, and they fall in two categories: those that make the caramel first and those that let the oven do the job.  Unless you are good at making caramel in a pan, you are going to mess up the first times, making it take not only over an hour to make the tarte tatin, but use up more ingredients than you need to.  So, today’s pastry will let the oven do most of the work.  It comes from the website bon appetit, with only a couple of changes based on what was available to me.  I am making both a banana one and an apple one.  Tradition uses apples, but Kathryn (me) loves bananas.
Before your baking night, you will need to gather the following ingredients: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1/2 stick left out for 20 to 30 minutes); 8 tablespoons light brown sugar (don’t use Splenda based, it doesn’t quite caramelize); 4 ripe bananas; 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (leave this out for at least 30 minutes).  These amounts will vary depending on what you bake the tarte tatin in.  The site’s recipe calls for several crème brulee tins, but I don’t have those.  I used a 9” cake pan, and as you will see, the amounts of ingredients are only guidelines.
Tartin 01
First, turn the oven on to 400 degrees.  This is important for you time management.  Believe me, because I forgot this step.  Next, take your pan in one hand and the butter in the other.  Slather that butter all over the inside of the pan, and make it thick.  This is why the measurements don’t exactly matter.  There just needs to be enough butter to prevent anything from sticking to the pan, and to keep the caramelized sugar yummy.  When you are done, say “eww, gross” and throw the rest of that butter away before you are tempted to make some toast.  Real butter is too delicious to eat.  Now is also a great time to wash your hands.
Tartin 03
Next up, sugar those babies!  Again, the amount is only a guideline.  Cover the bottom of the pan with a good amount of brown sugar.  I put a couple of tablespoons in my hand and sprinkled until the pan was evenly covered.  For the banana tarte tatin I was feeling spicy, so I added a dash of cinnamon to that sugar.  And yes, I made a mess.  Anyone that knows me is not surprised here.
Tartin 04
Now, cut the fruit.  For bananas, just cut diagonally into several pieces.  It took me two bananas for me to cover the 9” pan.  For the apples, I cut each into 8 pieces.  I broke the handy apple corer I was using, but a butcher knife makes quick work of an apple so it was easily done.  Be sure to peel the apple pieces.  Here is where your creativity can shine.  I kept mine simple.
Tartin 06Tartin 08
Pastry time!  Using a little flour on a flat surface, roll out the pastry dough to thin it out a little bit.  Then you can cut it out to just a little bigger than the pan you are using.  I laid the dough on top of the fruit and cut around the outside of the pan.  Tuck the dough into the pan, around the fruit.  Don’t be harsh here, just make sure all the fruit is covered by the dough.
Tartin 12Tartin 13
The oven should be nice and hot by now.  Put the pans on a cookie sheet (just in case of an overflow) and throw them in the oven.  Set the timer for 25 minutes (less if making a smaller one, but no less than 20 minutes), and go do the other chores you need to do.  I cleaned up the mess, did the dishes, made some peach tea, and watched about five minutes of the Big Bang Theory.
Tartin 15
Ding!  D’argo and Rusty, my honorary bakers, run to the kitchen, and we pull out the treats.  Oh… my… goodness to they smell good.
Let them sit for about 5 minutes then flip them over onto a plate.  BEFORE YOU DO:  put a pot holder or towel underneath the pan to prevent finger burn.  Put the plate over the top and flip.  I like to tap the bottom of the pan a couple of times too.  Done!  If you don’t have any crème to serve with it, use whip cream or a little ice cream.  We had none, so I served it up naked to my test-monkey, Brant…
So there we have it.  An easy, low-ingredient pastry that is quick enough to make in an evening, and will be eaten even faster.  I will leave you with a picture of my honorary bakers, D’argo and Rusty.  They are not allowed to touch anything, but they hang around just in case I drop something.
Dargo Sept2011Rusty Sept2011

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