Hello! Well here it is, my first blog entry. I have been wanting to do a blog for sometime now, so right now I am slightly giddy with happiness. I have been running my chocolates & cakes stall for exactly a year. So much has happened within just this one year, so many interesting people I met, so much knowledge I gained. I hope to write down those types of things in this online diary.
For the readers who don’t know me, a little introduction: I am a market stall trader at Broadway Market. I am there pretty much every Saturday 9am til 4pm or until whenever I finish selling off all my items! (Come visit me!) Broadway Market is an outdoor street market with a good vibe, very London, with about 60 stalls mostly selling tasty food, & some excellent stalls selling clothing/ bags/ objects/ all sorts. I think it is the best market around in London (ofcourse I’d say that!).
Tarte Tatin is currently my favourite tart that I have on my stall & it feels right to be the first to feature.
It is an up-side down carameralized apple tart. Wonderfully rustic, classic French tart. It is cooked for about an hour & the apples are so soft (softer than ice cream) & squishy it just melts on your mouth.
There are several versions to the history of Tarte Tatin. The one I like is this: Stéphanie Tatin, one of the two Tatin sisters from the small rural town in the Loire Valley in France, overworked & a bit ditzy, baked an apple pie up-side down by mistake but served it at their hotel anyway! I love that there is a story behind it. I also like the way the French people apparently named it ‘tarte des demoiselles Tatin‘ (the tart of two unmarried women named Tatin).
It is made with just four or five simple ingredients; apples (approximately a whopping two kilograms of!), sugar, butter, puff pastry, & an optional vanilla pod. It is simple enough to make too – just caramelize the sugar & butter, align the halved apples & cook on the hob for a while. Then place puff pastry sheet over it & bake in the oven! When cooled, flip over & hey presto, you’ve got a Tarte Tatin!
Apparently this tart can easily be made with other types of fruit – pears, peaches, prunes, quince… any fruit experimentation valid. Which makes me think maybe I should try a mixed fruit version like a four-seasons pizza! That sounds fun & could look colourful, no?
I was in a minor dilemma about wether I should share my stall recipes online, customers might stop buying my stuff & start making it themselves! But I realize that, afterall, most of the recipes I use are not exactly my own anyway, it’s a mishmash from all sorts of sources, or slightly adapted. So how can I hog it to myself? Besides, if someone trusts my recipes as much as wanting to try it themself, then it is an honour.
Tarte Tatin Recipe:
You will need the following sorted & measured before starting…, & always read the whole recipe first so that there are no surprises while baking.
- 20cm diameter solid pan (a pan that is not loose-bottomed)
- 80g of butter, roughly cubed
- 160g of sugar (granulated or castor)
- Approximately 2kg of apples, peeled, cored & halved (it’s worth experimenting with different varieties. From my experience Braeburn is better & less mushier than Cox. I’m yet to try Granny Smith)
- 250g of puff pastry (store bought does a fine job. Wouldn’t bother making it from scratch, too much hard work! Note: Supermarkets sell in 500g, so its best to clingfilm the rest & freeze it until next time)
- 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways & de-seeded (the best way to do this is to first use the back of the knife, press & run it down the pod & then cut. This way the pod is flat & easier to cut)
- Roasting tray that will fit the pan
1. Melt the butter in the pan over the hob.
2. Soon as it has melted, put the sugar & the vanilla seeds in. Let the sugar dissolve.
3. Place the de-seeded vanilla pod skin in the middle of the pan.
4. Tightly align the prepared apples, first from the outside (don’t worry, there should be plenty of apples left to stuff in to the gaps at a later stage).
5. Cook on medium-high heat. The liquid should start to look carameralized & brown. Plenty of juice from the apples are now coming out & mixing with the caramel & is bubbling away. Here, be careful with your heat-control & adjust so that the juices don’t spill out. If the pan you are using has low sides, the sticky juice will spill out & make a right old mess on your cooker. (which, if it does, then it is best to wipe clean soon as you are finished – don’t wait til it hardens. It’s a back-killer to clean)
6. After a while, you’ll notice that there are spaces to shove more apples in. Now is the time to place as much apples as you can (but don’t be tempted to cut your halves in to smaller slices to fill it – it will make the final tart look like one big mass of squashed guu. You want rustic, thrown together look, & the apple shapes still intact). Now switch the hob off. Start to pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
7. Roll out the puff pastry so that the sheet is bigger than the pan. It does not need to be a neat circle. Place on top of the apples. Use your fork (in my case a cooking chopstick) & tuck in the ends inbetween the apple & the pan sides. Note that this tucking-in bit is very important – because if you don’t tuck, the pastry will shrink when baked & be smaller than the pan, & will not be big enough base for the apples once the tart is flipped over.
8. Pierce some breathing holes on your pastry so that hot air can escape.
9. Get any high-sided tray, like a roasting tray & line it with foil. Place the pan in it (the roasting tray is a must-have to collect the pool of more sticky caramel liquid that oozes out while the tart is in the oven – otherwise you’ll have the oven to scrub).
10. Pop it in to the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes.
11. Once done, cool it in the room as is. Once cooled, place on the top shelf of your refrierator (top-shelf because health & safety-wise any food that is to be eaten as is should be on a shelf above anything that is raw like meat, so that there is no risk of raw meat juice leaking on to your tarte). Preferably leave it there for half a day to set the shape.
12. When ready to serve, first, look at the pastry. Is it stuck to the sides of the pan? Use clean fingers to nudge it free. Now get your cake stand. Place the cake stand upside down on to your pan. Using slow & good maneuvering skills, tightly hold both stand & pan together, & flip it over. Drum-rolls. Slowly remove the pan mold. Hey presto! There should be a wonderfully formed tart in front of your eyes!
So anyway, I hope this first ever entry goes down well & thank you for enduring my bad writing… Please leave comments if you like to. – I’m so tempted to write more but, I now plan to have dinner with my family, & then once my kid goes up the wooden steps to bedforshire (as D likes to say!) I plan to watch the Da Vinci Code DVD we bought from Tesco with everyone, merry with a bit of sake. I know I’d probably fall asleep on the sofa half way through…
I’m thinking of uploading an entry at a once-a-week rate, so please come back around the same time next week!