Tatins seem to be everywhere these days; first Bellini Valli of More Than Burnt Toast, then Loulou, then Ivy came up with their own versions. I saw Ivy’s post just as I had got home with a big bag of apples to make one myself. At a stroke, I tried Ivy’s idea of making small individual ones, using some perfectly-sized shallow gratin dishes. A great idea for anyone nervous about flipping the tatin; it’s much easier with small ones! I think I’ll be making these a lot now, although there is something impressive about a single large tarte tatin fresh from the oven, glistening with caramel and just waiting to be shared with friends.
Finally, if you are really, really nervous about making tatins, try this unconventional method from Zen Can Cook — the results look stunning, and that’s exactly the colour you should be aiming for — though personally I would not use puff pastry.
Once upon a time, tarte tatin meant apples, but now it’s come to cover a much broader spectrum, from sweet to savoury. Some of them are a travesty of what tatin is about in my opinion; it should be simple, not tricked-up with loads of extra ingredients, and the essential point is that whatever you use should caramelise to a rich golden brown; if it doesn’t, what’s the point? Things that produce too much juice or go soggy/disintegrate will not work. Whatever you choose, you must be brave and caramelise it to within an inch of its life; it must be deep golden-brown before you put the pastry on, otherwise your finished tart will be pale and disappointing. So that said, here are a few ideas:
- To a classic apple tatin, add some thin slices of quince for a wonderful added aroma, or mix pears and apples. I always add some grated lemon zest and a squeeze of juice to mine.
- Try a pineapple tatin; it works really well, and is a good use for a fresh pineapple that isn’t as flavourful as you had hoped. Peaches and apricots are good summer candidates too.
- On the savoury front, tomato tatin is obvious and excellent; either one large one as a main course with salad, or small individual ones served as starters.
- Shallots make a fabulous tatin: caramelise whole peeled shallots slowly in butter or olive oil with a sprinkling of sugar, and add some balsamic vinegar at the end. For the ultimate taste and texture sensation, make individual ones, turn out, and top each with a slice of pan-fried foie gras. This is sinfully good!