Throughout history, humans gave a symbolic status to many natural elements and food items surrounding them. So what was the symbol of eternal youth in pagan Germany, the symbol of beauty in Mesopotamia, and a source of immorality in the garden of Hesperides? More importantly, what's the fruit that lured humanity into sin according to popular misinterpretation of the Bible? Yup, you guessed it, it's the humble Apple.
The Tatin sisters who worked at the Hotel Tatin in the village of Lamotte-Beuvron in France's Loire Valley, entered history through a random series of events. Stephanie Tatin was the hotel's cook, while her sister Caroline was the hostess. They successfully managed the hotel located in the Loire Valley, a region many call the garden of France due to its abundance of fruits, vegetables and vineyards.
So how the Tarte Tatin came to be? In 1889, at the peak of the hunting season, the hotel was overwhelmed with hungry guests. While Caroline was taking care of the guests, Stephanie was running frantically in the kitchen from one stove to another preparing food. As she was preparing the traditional and well known apple pie, she forgot the pan of apples on the stove. The smell of caramelizing apples caught her attention. Fearing the apples might burn and in an attempt to save them, she put the pie crust on top of the apples and put the pan in the oven to cook it. Stephanie admired the result and so did the guests. And there you have it, out of a mere coincidence a sublime dessert was born.
The original recipe has only few ingredients, apples (reines de reinettes or king of the pippins variety), sugar, butter and pie crust. However, throughout the years some variations were made such as adding spices or using puff pastry.
Organic reines de reinettes apples rich with their natural flavor are not easy to get hold of, so I always add spices to my apples to enhance the flavor. Many spices can be added, but cinnamon and apples are a marriage made in heaven.
You can use either a traditional pie crust or puff pastry for this recipe. I honestly prefer using puff pastry, it's lighter, richer and just adds a magical touch to this dessert.
In order to make this delicous tarte tatin you will need:
- 6 granny smith apples
- 100 g brown sugar (demerara preferably)
- 35 g butter
- 30 g maple syrup
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch of fresh ground star anis and cloves
You can substitute the spices with vanilla and if you are a purist you can omit the addition of spices and vanilla altogether.
Peel and core the apples, put them in a bowl full of water and the juice a a lemon. The lemon will stop the browning of the apples.
On a low heat and in an oven proof pan combine sugar, butter, maple syrup, salt and the spices. Let the sugar melt slowly and do not stir it, just move the pan gently to avoid that the sugar burns.
Let the apples cook for a while, turn them, and when you see that the caramel is bubbling, you can turn off the heat and let them cool for few minutes.
You can make your own puff pastry ( I will share the recipe in an upcoming post) or you can use a store bought one. Please make sure to use a brand that you trust and that actually uses butter to make the pastry, otherwise the taste won't be there.