If you previously thought tarte tatins were fancy, wait until you see these bad boys.
Dominique Ansel has made a statement in his book that I honestly didn’t think I’d ever hear someone say, let alone a *French pastry chef*. In the last blog Ansel confessed his love for vanilla ice cream, however he drops an even bigger bombshell in todays. Dominique Ansel doesn’t like tarte tatin (GASP). Bold statements seem to be his big thing (besides being the god of all pastry and inventor of the Cronut, but you get what I mean ;)).
Ansel has taken that dessert and combined it with a classic fairground treat, the toffee apple (one more thing that he doesn’t like, I can’t really blame him though ;)). Instead of segments of apple, he wanted the tarte tatin to have the luxury of eating a whole apple, like the toffee apple. Therefore, he took two foods that he isn’t keen on and made something MAGICAL.
The whole tarte tatin is baked separately, dare I say deconstructed? The base is a sable Breton biscuit, which acts as the pastry. I don’t know about you, but ‘sable breton’ screams the name of a nerdy French guy in a stereotypical indie film, but here it’s more similar to a shortbread ;). Sable literally translates to ‘sandy’, implying the texture of the biscuit.
In true Dominique Ansel fashion, the sable dough must refrigerate overnight. I always doubt him when he instructs that I must rest overnight, surely a couple of hours works just the same? However, when you have that dough on your work surface, you will see why it must rest so long. That stuff is STICKY. The next day I cut circles out of the dough and baked them, relatively pain free.
Now we come to the exciting part, the caramelised apple. Firstly, you make the caramel, before baking it with the apple. I opted to use a muffin tray to bake mine in, he does initially instruct to use separate cake tins, however mine were too large and the muffin tray was the closest I could get. Let me tell you, before putting them in the oven, you WILL doubt him ;). Suddenly, my apples looked the size of Jupiter (massive exaggeration, I know) how on earth were these gonna bake and shrink so much?! However, of course Ansel knows what he is doing. After 3-4 hours in the oven, the apples had shrunk massively and had managed to somehow coat themselves in the caramel, while holding their shape.
(please excuse how extremely grotty that second photo looks, I promise you that its from the caramel sputtering everywhere ;))
After allowing them to cool and chill in the fridge, it was ready to turn them out. I couldn’t do this quite as instructed because I used a muffin tray, so had to jankily scoop them out instead (rather surprisingly I didn’t murder any of them in the process and have to patch them back up thinking I’m in Greys Anatomy or something). I placed them on the sable biscuits and they were done.
I must say, I was feeling slightly daunted by this recipe before starting. Although everything so far has been proper patisserie, these literally looked like you would be able to buy them in one of Ansel’s shops for upwards of £6. Even though the recipe is relatively simple, I just didn’t know if I’d be able to do them justice. Suddenly I was entering true pastry chef territory.
I am happy to confirm that they were PERFECT. I don’t know if I’ve said this before BUT, Dominique Ansel is a genius. The apple had such a strong apple flavour, while being coated in the perfect amount of caramel and held their shape perfectly, while being able to cut with a spoon. Combined with the crispy sable Breton base, this was pure pastry magic.
Also, HOT TIP – if you warm them slightly and have them with some of Ansel’s ice cream from the previous recipe, they hit NEW HEIGHTS OF PERFECTION.
NEXT UP: THE PURPLE TART (this is the LAST BEGINNER RECIPE WHAT?? This recipe is definitely the most elaborate yet, even though the name might be painfully vague ;)).
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