Sunday, April 13, 2008

Please Let the Crust Defy Gravity

Tinseltroos and I had an invitation to our friend Heg's for dinner last night. Heg had invited us and two other of her friends over as we'd expressed our interest in the pickled herring of her native Norway. I've always liked pickled herring and, via other Scandinavian friends, have had Danish and Swedish herring but Norway was a new one on me. As I didn't have to work on Saturday I asked Heg if I might make a pudding, she acquiesced and I set to reading through my cookery books on the lookout for something new. I decided, eventually, to do a tarte tatin which I have made many times before, but just to make it interesting for myself, I decided to make my own puff pastry. You can call this either bravery or plain foolishness as you please. I make a pretty decent shortcrust pastry but I have not tried puff pastry before. Before getting my hands covered in flour I consulted youTube for any helpful tutorials and found this one, by the wonderful Ms. Glaze who also writes this blog. She is a professional chef and therefore rather intimidatingly competent. Nonetheless I was adamant I would have a go. Here's a photo of the pastry after its final turn before it went back into the fridge to rest (again):

Preparing Puff Pastry

The rest of the tarte tatin preparation was very straightforward and once the pastry was rolled out and had covered the apples and caramel there was nothing to do but put it into the oven and then let it cook. I think I returned to peep through the oven door window about once every two minutes so worried was I that it would sit there, unmoving, and cook into an unappealing pastry brick. The gods must have been on my side as it did rise and actually looked quite presentable when it came out. Tinseltroos wondered what the little yelps of glee coming from the kitchen were. This was the cause:

Tart Tatin Just Out of the Oven

After allowing it to cool for a couple of minutes it was ready to turn out and, ta da - the finished dish:

Tart Tatin

We had a lovely evening of Norwegian ham, elk sausage, pickled herring with boiled egg and rye bread. Tinseltroos looked disgustedly at the plate of sausage and egg. As a vegetarian who finds eggs creepy this was probably her worst nightmare on a plate. She seemed happy enough with her cheese and mushrooms though. After dinner came my pudding which seemed to go down well and following food came a couple of vodka martinis to finish the night off. Normally I am resolutely a gin man, especially in a martini, but Heg had tracked down a bottle of 42 Below, a vodka from New Zealand which was actually delicious. Probably the nicest vodka I've had. They have an irritatingly faux hip website here if you're interested. And so we said our goodbyes, wandered down the canal tow path back into Bethnal Green, got on the tube and trundled home.

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Blogger Churlita said...

That looks amazing. i actually drank vodka too on Saturday. I normally try to just stick with beer.

9:14 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

I'm not normally a vodka person but this stuff was really good. You live and learn.

12:42 pm  
Blogger booda baby said...

Damn you, cook-y peoples and bless your hearts, too.

Bless your hearts for all the obvious reasons.

Damn you for knowing how to make my FAVORITE of all time and dangling the recipe in front of my greed. No one in America makes it. If they did, I'd feed them sardines and vodka. I would.

Sigh. I've chosen whole restaurants for the tarte tatin on the menu.

6:17 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Tarte tatin is pretty easy to cook. I only made life difficult for myself by opting to make my own pastry as I'd never done it before and was intrigued. If you can peel an apple you can make tarte tatin. This is pretty much the receipt I use.

6:50 pm  
Blogger booda baby said...


350g/12oz caster sugar - I know not what caster sugar is, so I'd have to use plain stuff, the stuff that twinkles.

2 tbsp liquid glucose (available from some supermarkets and online shops) - This scares the hell out of me. We don't have stuff called by that name and I'm not sure any name we'd slap on it would be an improvement.

100ml/3½fl oz clear honey
100ml/3½fl oz water
oil, for greasing

Okay, fair enough. THOSE are easy.
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda: would that be baking soda?

Not easy at all. Easy is if I sit down at a restaurant and say: tarte tatin, please. The good kind, please. More, please.

2:58 am  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Booda Baby,

It's really not as bad as it looks. All I did (assuming you're going to use store bought puff pastry) was to get a small cast iron frying pan, it's the one I use for steaks, omelettes and so on and in that I put the sugar. Caster sugar is regular cane sugar ground a little finer than normal. You ususally use it in cake baking. I put that in the pan and heat it over a low heat until it begins to caramelise.

When it's all melted and golden brown I take it off the heat and lay the peeled, cored and quartered apple into the dish peeled side down. When this is done I sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves over the top and then cover with the rolled out pastry. Tuck the pastry down the sides of the pan and put it into a hot oven for about 30 minutes or until the pastry has risen and gone golden. Take it out, wait for a minute or two then turn it out onto a plate. Honest, it's not so bad. I promise.

9:09 am  

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