At least once a year I need to make a Tart Tatin!
It is usually my go to dessert in autumn when apples and pears are at their best. This time I had to use black figs before the season ended.
I find the small, firm black figs work best. I have also used frozen figs in the past but fresh is preferable. Figs marry well with honey and cinnamon, so I added these. In many recipes whole cinnamon bark quills are used, but I prefer using ground cinnamon.
Sea salt and fresh thyme or lemon thyme are a delicious additive. If you do not have thyme, then grated lemon zest is as good.
I explained the origin of this ‘upside down’ tart previously (click here). The reason why I like it is that you get delicious caramelized crisp pastry edges and because the pastry is baked on top of the filling as opposed to under the fruit so you always have crisp pastry and never the infamous ‘soggy bottom’!
Many people regard this as a really complex dessert, but it is its simplicity in contrast to the delicious result that confuses.
There are 3 easy components
– a “caramel” base, with a few flavour additions
– the fruit
– the pastry, store bought, not homemade
You need a flame & ovenable container. I find a paella pan or a shallow metal (preferably non-stick) cake pan perfect for this.
The caramel is helped along by using brown sugar and butter. Place the brown sugar and butter in the pan and heat gradually to dissolve the sugar and heat until it bubbles. Add the additional flavouring such as ground cinnamon, herbs or flaked salt. For some fruits I add a few spoonfuls of honey for extra flavour.
If you are using firm fruits like apple or pear, it will need some stove top cooking to soften the fruit. For soft fruit like nectarines or figs you simply add the fruit to the cooled caramel.
I always use bought puff pastry, made with butter. Avoid cheaper varieties that don’t use butter! Egg wash & a hot oven gives a crisp golden surface.
Serve the tart slices with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.