Every food hound worth his seasoning knows the ‘possibly bollocks’ story of how the the tarte Tatin was invented by accident when Stéphanie Tatin of the Hotel Tatin in Sologne ballsed up an apple pie by making it upside down.
The original apple version is a rightfully revered classic of French cuisine, and the method we use to make it comes from Raymond Blanc.
The tarte Tatin is adaptable to other fruits, but care is needed in terms of sweetness and the amount of liquid that gets discharged by the fruit during the cooking. The popular pear tarte Tatin, for instance, results in a small lake on the plate, but the additional sweetness further offsets the just-bitter caramel.
Strawberries are a popular fruit for a tarte Tatin, and using them makes the process even easier because they need no pre-cooking. Their sweetness is bang on, and they don’t let out a ton of liquid.
Quite where the strawberry tarte Tatin came from and whether it is remotely French cannot be determined. I got the idea from Scottish food photographer Del ‘Wee Rascal‘ Sneddon, but Googling it turns up a ton of them from all over the world. We looked to Edinburgh chef Mark Greenaway for the method of not cooking the strawberries.
Hotel Tatin can still be found at Rue de Vierzon, 41600 Lamotte-Beuvron, France.
Tarte Tatin aux fraises
- 100g caster sugar
- 60g unsalted butter, chilled
- 300g large strawberries, hulled and halved
- 10g unsalted butter, melted
- 300g ready-rolled puff pastry
Heat an oven to 180˚C.
Place the sugar in a tarte dish with a splash of water. Heat the sugar until it melts and turns the colour of golden syrup. Take the sugar off the heat and mix in the cold butter until melted. While doing this the caramel will turn a rich, brown colour. Allow the dish to cook and the caramel to thicken as it helps with the next stage if things are not hot and runny.
Arrange the strawberry halves in concentric circles in the caramel, cut side uppermost. Brush over with the melted butter.
Allow the dish to cool a bit more – you need to get it cool enough to touch or you will melt the pastry and burn your fingers in the next step.
Cover the dish with the pastry and trim to to the edge with the knife. Tuck the edges down into the caramel all the way around, ensuring the edges reach the bottom of the dish. Put the tarte in the oven for 40–45 minutes until the pastry is golden. Turn out onto a plate while still hot.
Wine pairing: Sauternes.