I won’t bog down my first post with too much about myself. For that, there’s a handy tab at the top that says “About the Author,” where you’ll find some interesting tidbits about yours truly. Seeing as I promised to “dish” on here, I’ll tell you all that I had a fantastic weekend. I enjoyed the foliage, I enjoyed a good movie and some great company (there is something to be said for reconnecting with old friends on Facebook . . .), and perused my cookbook collection, when I decided I had to make Tarte Tatin.
Kitchen mishaps, we all have them. Today’s dessert is luckily not the tale of my own kitchen mistake. Perhaps you’ve heard of Apple Tarte Tatin, a delicious sort-of “apple upside down pie.” History has it that the Tartin sisters, while overworked in the kitchen of their French hotel, put apples to cook in butter and sugar with the hopes of making an apple pie for dessert. When Stefanie Tatin noticed the forgotten apples beginning to burn, she tried to save the dessert by covering it with the pie crust, putting it into the oven, and then turning it out onto a serving dish. While Stefanie did not succeed in making an apple pie from the wreckage, she did succeed in making a wonderful dessert, which we now know as Tarte Tatin.
While I love fresh Fall apples, what I had on hand were pears. A Tarte Tatin holds up well with just about any kind of fruit, and this one didn’t disappoint. With the help of the food processor, the crust came together quickly. The pears required hardly any labor at all, and the trickiest part of replicating this “mistake” was turning it out onto the serving dish. You must move quickly, and confidently, in order to keep the contents of the skillet from pouring out all over the serving platter. In the event that you’re not too quick, or too confident, with the flipping and this happens to you, salvage it by serving in bowls, topped with ice cream. It will still taste fantastic, even if the presentation is lost.
Pear Tarte Tatin
for the crust:
- 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 Tbs. vegetable shortening, very cold, in 2 pieces
- 10 Tbs. ( 1 1/4 sticks) very cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1/4 C. ice water
for the fruit:
- 8 medium pears, peeled and quartered
- 1 stick of butter (8 Tbs.)
- 3/4 C. sugar
Make the crust by putting the flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.
Add the shortening and the butter, and pulse until the ingredients mix into clumps the size of large peas.
Add 3 Tbs. of the ice water and pulse, until incorporated. If, after about a dozen pulses, the dough doesn’t look uniform, pulse in more water a little at a time, until the dough sticks together when pinched.
Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and shape into a flat, round disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling out.
Make the filling by melting the butter in a 10 to 12 inch oven safe skillet (I used cast iron) over medium heat. As you melt the butter, use a pastry brush to coat the sides of the skillet in melted butter.
Sprinkle the sugar over the melted butter and remove from heat.
Arrange the pears, round side down, in the skillet, packing them in snugly. When the bottom of the skillet is covered, cut the remaining pear quarters in half and scatter them evenly over the bottom layer.
Cook the pears over medium heat until the sugar turns a deep caramel color, 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put the skillet on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and roll out until it is 1/8″ thick, and cut the dough into a circle 1″ larger than the diameter of the skillet you’re using. Poke holes throughout using a fork.
Place the dough over the fruit and tuck the edges under loosely.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dough is baked through.
Cover the skillet with an inverted, large rimmed serving dish. Be sure you are wearing oven mitts, and turn the tart out onto the platter and remove the skillet. If any pears stick to the pan, gently remove them with an offset spatula and press them back into the tart.
Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.
Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. Crust recipe, p. 442. Tarte Tatin recipe, p. 312