The Tarte Tatin is a story of one of those happy accidents in the kitchen – it is said that one of the Tatin sisters in France was baking an apple pie for guests and she accidentally dropped the pie! In one of those Eureka moments, she did what many of us have done in the kitchen when a recipe doesn’t quite live up to our expectations – she improvised! She picked up the pie, turned it over, tidied it up and served it to her guests upside down and the Tarte Tatin as we now know it was born – and aren’t we glad she dropped the pie and saved the day with the simple act of turning the pie over …….. what would have been a culinary disaster is today one of the best loved forms of apple pie. Here is a link to the story of Tarte Tatin and the Tatin sisters….if you are interested.
And the Tarte Tatin went on to be improvised by great innovative cooks into many other sorts of upside down pies using bananas, apricots, plums, peaches and even savoury upside down pies baked with vegetables like peppers, onions, beans and tomatoes.
Most Tarte Tatin recipes use more or less the same method…. some use cinnamon or cloves to add a hint of spice or a splash of brandy or liqueur to give it that extra oomph. I have left the spices out of this recipe and let the apples speak for themselves. I hope you will try it and enjoy this simple and delicious all time favourite – my husband said, having devoured half the pie, I hope you will do this again and yes I shall!
1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry (I used JusRol frozen puff pastry which is vegan)
4-5 eating apples – about 700-750 grams (use Cox’s, Braeburns or any apple which is slightly tart)
100 grams light brown sugar
60ml Brandy or Calvados (I used Brandy), OR simply use 60ml water OR mix alcohol with water in equal parts
1 vanilla pod, remove the seeds by splitting with a knife and scrape the seeds out (you could use half teaspoon of vanilla essence)
50 grams vegan butter
Juice and rind of half lemon
8 inch shallow pie dish
- Defrost the pastry – takes a couple of hours
- Peel and core the apples using an apple corer or cut in half horizontally and scoop out the seeds and core with a teaspoon
- Coat apples with lemon juice and set aside
- Turn the oven on now to pre-heat at 190C, 375F or gas mark 5 (adjust temperature for fan assisted oven)
- In a large frying pan add sugar and Brandy (or whatever you choose to use) and gently dissolve the sugar on low heat, stirring all the time. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes until all the sugar is completely dissolved
- Add lemon rind, vanilla seeds (or vanilla essence) and place the apples in the frying pan, cut side down. Cover and cook on low for about 10 minutes – there should be very little sticky caramelised juice left in the pan – if too much, uncover and dry it off a little
- Add butter and allow it to melt – take off the heat
- Now gently arrange the apple halves cut side down in the tarte tatin dish and scrape all the sticky juices on it
- Roll the pastry so it is about an inch larger than the size of the dish – you can always trim the pastry with kitchen scissors when you place it on the dish if it is too big. Place on top of apples and tuck the edges into the dish. Lightly prick the pastry with a fork or skewer
- Place Tarte Tatin in pre-heated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes
- Let it cool for 10 minutes, place a plate over the dish and turn it over! Be careful and wear your oven gloves
- Serve warm with cream or ice cream