Creating A Little Tarte Tatin Magic

When we were in Brussels, I almost gasped in surprise that the holiday festival food included—along with spiced warm wine—gaufrettes!  I had to remind myself not to keep asking for “Belgian Waffles” because we were already in Belgium, and locals would laugh at my gauche behavior.  But, of course, it turns out that their own gaufrettes were thicker and more substantial—less airy inside—and they usually had pearl sugar crystals.  In other words, not really like the kinds you get at brunch places in the United States when you order “Belgian Waffle.”

So, I expected that our misconceptions of French cuisine would be equally skewed.  (And, really, most frites—“French fries”—are not like McDonald’s specialty.)  On our very first trip to Paris together, on the first night we had a nice dinner out at a bistro, the dessert on offer was “Tarte Tatin.”   And, of course, Tarte Tatin is one of those desserts that Americans so closely associate with the French that you almost doubt its authenticity.  Surely, the French cannot really eat tarte tatin—not the ones Americans imagine at any rate—we reasoned.  We decided to risk it.  Well, it was like American Tarte Tatin, though perhaps a bit less tasty than the one Will bakes at home.

The fact is, Will has perfected the Tarte Tatin over the several years he has been baking, and he now has mastered the art by combining his favorite elements of different recipes.  He uses the recipe for “Tarte Tatin of Winter Pears” from Williams-Sonoma’s Cooking from the Farmer’s Market, swapping out the pears for apples when we make the traditional version of the tarte.  He likes the crystalized ginger and the spices of the recipe. 

For a while though, he was using Hay Day Country Market Cookbook for the flaky pie curst after we decided that the Williams-Sonoma recipe’s crust was too doughy and tough.  It turned out that the miscalculation was on our part.  The recipe called for a 12-inch baking pan, so the crust would have been rolled out thinner than what we were making for a 9-inch pan.  So, back we went to the drawing board and re-proportioned everything.

Click here for the original recipe, but read on for our modifications for a 9-inch traditional Apple Tarte Tatin.

For the Crust, use:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ t salt
½ cup cold butter
4-5 T ice water

3 T cold butter
¼ c sugar
5-6 small apples (easier to fit in if they are small)
2 T candied ginger chopped
1 T lemon juice
½ ground cinnamon
¼ allspice
¼ ground cloves

We use these modifications for the recipe, and enjoy this very traditional French dessert all through fall, until our apple supply finally disappears…


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