Ap­ple tarte tatin with pink pep­per­corns

The Guardian - Cook - - Baking -

Serves 6-8

3 tbsp but­ter

135g caster sugar

10-12 large ap­ples peeled, cored and quar­tered

¼ tsp pink pep­per­corns, roughly ground

500g puff pas­try, rolled into a 26cm cir­cle and chilled

For the sauce

200g sugar

2 tbsp wa­ter

100ml ap­ple juice 25g un­salted but­ter, cut into 1cm pieces Salt and brandy or cal­va­dos, to taste (op­tional)

Creme fraiche, to serve

1 Pre­heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Have ready an ice-wa­ter bath large enough for a 25cm cast iron fry­ing pan or cop­per tatin mould. Caramelise 2 tbsp but­ter and 6 tbsp of sugar over a high heat, swirling the pan now and then. Once the sugar has dis­solved, use a wooden spoon or bal­loon whisk to bring it all to­gether. Do not worry if it splits or crys­tallises, as it will dis­solve again dur­ing the bak­ing process. You want a deep, dark caramel. Re­move from the heat and im­me­di­ately put the pan on the ice wa­ter to stop the caramel from colour­ing fur­ther.

2 Ar­range the ap­ples, bear­ing in mind they will be up­side down when done, so make them look pretty. I place the curved side down into the caramel, cored-side up. Place a se­cond layer of ap­ples on top, cored-side down, and press gen­tly with your hands coax­ing them to fit to­gether like a puzzle.

3 Sprin­kle the ground pep­per­corns over the top. Cover with the disc of rolled, chilled pas­try, tuck­ing the edges in be­tween the ap­ples and the pan. Melt the re­main­ing 1 tbsp but­ter and brush the pas­try with it. Sprin­kle with the re­main­ing 2 tbsp sugar, then pierce sev­eral times with a knife to al­low steam to es­cape dur­ing bak­ing.

4 Bake the tarte tatin for 45-55 min­utes, or un­til the pas­try is crisp and golden, the sugar has started to caramelise on top, and the ap­ple be­neath is start­ing to bub­ble up.

5 Mean­while, make the sauce. Add the sugar and wa­ter to a heavy-based pan and cook over a medium heat un­til dis­solved, swirling the pan gen­tly, with­out stir­ring. Once dis­solved, raise the heat to high and caramelise. Have your ap­ple juice ready. Once the caramel is a dark am­ber colour, re­move from the heat im­me­di­ately and stop the cook­ing by care­fully pour­ing in the ap­ple juice and whisk­ing. Drop in the but­ter, and whisk un­til smooth. Taste and ad­just the sea­son­ing. Add a lit­tle salt or 1 tbsp ap­ple brandy, if you like.

6 Re­move from the oven and al­low the tart to sit undis­turbed for 10 min­utes. Have ready a large plate that will com­pletely cover the top of the tarte tatin. Us­ing ex­treme cau­tion, place the plate over the pan and, us­ing an oven glove or tea towel wrapped around the out­side, quickly flip the pan over and turn the tart out on to the plate in one smooth mo­tion, be­ing cau­tious of any hot liq­uid or steam that might es­cape.

7 Serve with a dol­lop of creme fraiche and the ap­ple caramel sauce poured over the top.

Cook’s tip Use your thumb to make an im­pres­sion in the dough after each turn. This keeps track of your turns on the dough.

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