First the bad news: the enticing crust above was so hard that I was embarrassed that I was serving it to someone not a member of my household. A mixture of wheat flour, water, and sunflower seed oil, it was a pleasure to mix and roll out. Little did I suspect that it would be impossible to handle with a fork. After TC managed to saw it apart into wedges, we elected to eat it with our hands. Though dry and tough, our teeth were never threatened. By the sugar, sure, but not by the hardness. Now the good news: the topping was loaded with flavor and moisture.
This is how the topping evolved: 100g muscavado sugar in 4 Tbs of water, heated and whisked until it melted. I added four sliced apples and stirred five minutes until the apples were well covered and the syrup started to cling to the fruit. Then it was time to pour it into the tart pan.
The topping was then tucked into the oven for a forty minutes’ nap at 200°C, completely covered by the flippant crust. To my relief, transferring it to the serving plate was real simple. Some apples didn’t bond much to either the form or the top of the crust, leading me to think that perhaps the sugar wasn’t really caramelized. It was brown to begin with, so there were no clear visual cues except the thickening of the syrup. Nonetheless: there you have it, folks: my very first Tarte Tatin!
Or was it? I own two cookbooks with recipes for Tarte Tatin, and the one I used does not call for butter. (Butter, however, was what I used to grease the tart pan because it is simply unparalleled for that kind of job. Amen.) The second one does, and I’d now like to try that one out as well as the recipe provided at this very interesting website written by a Tarte Tatin fan, which includes butter as an essential ingredient.
Since a lot of ink has been spilled over TT, I want to underline that my interest in trying out other recipes for it is more to expand my repertoire of baking tricks than any reverence for this much talked about starlet of French cuisine. Despite having devoted a good decade of my life to French studies, I have never felt a great affinity for French cuisine, perhaps due to haute cuisine‘s addiction to meat. Instead, my motivation is to master a cooking technique, the art of caramelization, that I can go on to apply it to other foods like milk, onions, and pecans. And next time, of course, I’ll skip the sunflower seed oil for the house flour-butter-water crust recipe.
Have you had any adventures with caramelizing? Good luck in refining whatever culinary skill you’re currently working on!