La Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin is the classic French pudding that is served upside down. Tradition has it that it was created accidentally at the beginning of the 20th century, in the kitchens of the Hotel Tatin in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron, deep in the Loire Valley, when Stephanie Tatin (one of the two sisters who ran the hotel) was making an apple pie and placed the pastry crust over the top of the already prepared apples instead of putting the apples into a pastry shell. She turned it upside down and served it to her guests, they loved it and the rest is history.
If you're trying to sell your house, this is what you want to be cooking in the oven when viewers come around. They won't be able to bring themselves to leave, it's so scrumptious smelling.
This will serve 4-6 people... and may instigate a bout of dieting and gym visiting amongst those who partake.
2 lb (900 g) Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered
4 oz (110 g) caster sugar
2 oz (60 g) unsalted butter, cubed
1 oz (30 g) unsalted butter, melted (for brushing)
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
10½ oz (300 g) all butter puff pastry
Pre heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cover them with cold water to prevent discolouration.
Place a 24 cm tatin dish (or skillet) onto a medium heat and add the sugar. Once the sugar has turned to a golden brown caramel, quickly add the cubes of butter and the cinnamon. The sugar and butter will start to froth at this point. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat immediately.
Drain the apples well, then arrange them rounded side down, starting at the edges, around the tatin dish, making sure that there are no gaps between them. Fill in any little gaps with left-over chunks, then brush the apple pieces liberally with the melted butter. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, roll the puff pastry into a 24 cm circle, approximately 3mm thick, and lightly prick it with a fork. Place the pastry onto a baking sheet, cover with cling film and then chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Above: Just after coming out of the oven.
Once the apples have been in the oven for 30 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and place the chilled circle of puff pastry on top of the baked apples. Tuck the edges of the pastry down around the apples, then cut four small steam holes in it to allow the steam out (see photo below).
Cook in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 40-45 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden brown and crisp (see photo below).
Allow the tart to sit for around 5 minutes, then loosen it around the edges, cover with a large plate and carefully turn it upside down, using oven gloves to protect your hands. This is easier than it sounds as long as you take a firm hold of the tatin dish. My apples went a wandering a bit, but I don't think it turned out too badly considering the fact that I'd never flipped a tatin dish over before (and the Le Creuset one is quite heavy). Serve with a nice dollop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!