Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tarte Tatin: Part I

I have been wanting to try this dessert for a while now, so I decided I would make this my first great blogging challenge. For those of you who don't know what a Tarte Tatin is, it is sort of like an upside down apple pie that dates back to 19th century France. Here is the history as told by wikipedia:

Tradition says that the Tarte Tatin was first created by accident at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in 1898. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. There are conflicting stories concerning the tart's origin, but the predominant one is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. An alternative version of the tart's origin is offered on the Brotherhood of the Tarte Tatin website,according to which Stéphanie baked a caramelised apple tart upside-down by mistake. Regardless she served her guests the unusual dish hot from the oven and a classic was born.

Part I of this recipe is making the dough. Unfortunately, ever since the great onion chopping fiasco incident of October 2009, I have not had a food processor, so probably much like the Tatin sisters, I am going to make this dough by hand. Bare with me because I really have no idea what I am doing.

Here is what you will need:

Step 1: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Step 2: Add the butter and shortening and toss to coat with the flour mixture. I chopped up the butter into tiny pieces like so...

Step 3: Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the pieces of fat into the flour mixture until they are no larger than small peas.
(This is when it would have been REALLY nice to have a food processor...or even a pastry blender. I would say I probably worked on this for 8-10 minutes to get it down to size.)

Step 4: Dribble the water over the mixture and toss with a fork until the dough is evenly moist and begins to come together in a rough mass.

"Rough Mass"

Step 5: Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into a 5-inch disk.

Step 6: Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1⁄2 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut
into 3⁄4-inch pieces
3 Tbs. cold vegetable shortening, cut into
3⁄4-inch pieces
3 Tbs. very cold water

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