This month I have prepared two apple recipes – tarte tatin and an apple Charlotte – for St Charles Borromeo, the patron saint of apple orchards.
Tarte tatin was invented by sisters Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin at their hotel in Loir-et-Cher in the late 1880s. While preparing a traditional tart, Stéphanie, knackered after a long day, overcooked the apples and sugar. To save it, she popped the pastry over the top of the dish and put it straight into the oven. Served with a generous portion of ice cream, the golden apples and caramel flavour of her creation are the perfect finish for any dinner party.
For the tarte tatin, I always use a moule à manqué tin with sloping sides – it makes turning out your tatin so much easier. It’s definitely worth investing in a good quality one as you will be using it to cook on the hob to start with as well as in the oven later.
The apple charlotte – supposedly named after Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, because it was one of her favourites – is a simple but delightful treat and a perfect pud for the grandchildren to help you make. It is best to make it with freshly cooked apples. Simply core and peel the apples and then cook them in an oven at 150º for about 30 minutes. You’ll finish with a wonderful, chunky purée. If you want a bit of extra colour, leave the skins on for a rosy tint.
You will need a moule à manqué tin measuring 21cm.
1 ready rolled box of all-butter puff pastry. In some shops you can buy a ready rolled circle, but otherwise a rectangular one is fine and you can trim the edges accordingly.
4 dessert apples, peeled and cored and sliced into four
100g caster sugar
80g unsalted butter
A few cloves for decoration
Keep the pastry in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Heat the oven to 180º. Put the sugar and butter in your moule à manqué tin and put it on the hob to melt and cook.
Stir the mixture a little, but be careful not to stir too vigorously or it will start to crystallise. Cook for about 10 minutess until it has darkened and gone a lovely caramel colour.
Take off the heat and add the apples, rounded side down, in circles until you get to the centre. You might need to cut some of the apples into smaller slices as you’re aiming for a complete cover of apples with no gaps. Then lightly press it down with your hands to make sure it’s all even.
Pop it in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, get your pastry out of the fridge. Put a dinner plate on the unrolled pastry and cut around it for an even circle.
Then, take the apples out from the oven and turn the oven up to 200º. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and lay it on top of the apples, tucking the edges down into the mould, and then make a couple of little vents with a knife to let the steam escape.
Cook in the oven for about 25 minutes until the pastry has risen and is a crispy golden brown.
Allow to cool for an hour and then run a palette knife around the edge of the tin and turn it upside down onto a plate large enough to contain all the juices.
Decorate each apple slice with the cloves and serve warm with crème fraîche.
Blackberry and apple charlotte
500g stewed apples
4 to 5 slices of brown bread
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon demerera sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup (use syrup from the plastic bottle as it’s easier than measuring it from the tin)
Put the apples and some of the blackberries in a dish and mix in the mixed spice.
Melt the butter in a saucepan.
Cut the crusts off the bread and cut each slice into four triangles.
Put each slice into the melted butter, covering both sides.
Encase the apples with the bread until they are covered completely.
Pop the remaining blackberries in between the bread triangles and sprinkle the sugar over the bread and then drizzle the golden syrup over too.
Cook in the oven at 200º for around 20 minutess until the bread is crisp and golden.
This article first appeared in the November 2021 issue of the Catholic Herald. Subscribe today.
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