If you already know what a Tarte Tatin is…skip straight to the recipe because you already know how divine it is!…However, if you are unfamiliar with the delicious French apple tart read on…
Traditionally a Tarte Tatin is made by caramelising apples in a pan and then covering them with either puff pastry or shortcrust pastry. It’s then baked in the oven and flipped upside down onto a plate.
Often the apples are replaced with pears or other fruit but because I love eating vegetarian dishes, I chose to use leeks in this delicious savoury version,
If you love caramelised onions or sweet roasted onions, I promise you’ll love this too! The caramel soaks into pungent leeks and then with the buttery, flaky puff base, this tart is oh, so delectably delicious! As you can see I’ve added a sprinkling of feta…because, well why wouldn’t you?!
It’s easy to make with only 5 ingredients and is a lovely tart to enjoy at brunch, lunch or dinner, either alone or with some chicken, sausages, steak or chops (to appease the meat lovers at the table). 🙂
A little history – Tarte Tatin dates back to the 1880s. It’s said that one of the Tatin sisters from The Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France, created it by accident and that the patrons enjoyed it so much that it became their signature dish.
It got its name due to a Chef who went there to eat and loved the dish so much that he became obsessed with finding out how it was made. None of the staff would tell him so he got a job at the hotel as a gardener until he found out and then went back and put it on his own menu, naming it after the sisters.
4 short & fat or 5 long & slim leeks
1 cup, loosely packed / 170 g brown sugar
75 g / 2 ½ oz butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
400 g block of puff pastry (at room temperature)
¼ cup / 40 g feta (crumbled)
Optional – a few sprigs of parsley
- Of course, you can use pastry sheets, you’ll just need to do some patchworking. If you do, just brush a little water in between your seams to ensure they meld together when baking.
STEP BY STEP
For this, you will need an ovenproof frying pan. The one I use is 19 cm / 7½” across the bottom and 28 cm / 11″ across the top (you can go smaller but may need another leek if you go larger).
If your pastry isn’t at room temperature, retrieve it from the fridge now to let it soften a little.
To begin, remove the outer layer of the leeks (if the next layer looks wrinkled and a little soft, remove that layer also).
Go on to chop off most of the dark green ends down to where the leeks look firm and healthy.
Rinse them well under running water (especially between the upper leaves. and then dry them off as best you can.
Next, chop off the root ends and then starting at the root end, chop them into 3 cm / 1 ¼” pieces.
- I take a few more of the thicker layers off those darker green pieces to find the tender layers inside. You can see in this pic they are not as thick as the rest because I’ve taken a few layers off.
Next, preheat the oven to 170°C / 325°F fan/convection oven or 190°C / 375°F conventional oven, on bake, with a rack situated just below the centre of the oven.
Warning – You are now going to be making caramel and caramel is REALLY, REALLY HOT so please be mindful.
Next, cut the butter into cubes and place it and the brown sugar into the frying pan.
Over a medium heat melt the two together…
…whisking it often to help the two meld together.
- Please watch out for splatters and if it does start to bubble too much or begin to spit or splutter, turn the heat down a little.
At this point, the caramel should be at a very, slow, soft boil. If it’s not, turn the heat down to medium/low, or low, until it is.
Stand the leek pieces up in the caramel and leave them to caramelise in it for 10 minutes. You can use a pair of tongs to gently move the leeks around a little bit whilst they are softening in the caramel but there’s no need to turn them over.
- It’s best if the leek rounds totally fill up the pan (if they don’t and you have another leek, quickly prepare and add it).
- If at any stage the caramel is starting to go a very dark brown/black or you can smell the sugar starting to burn, remove the pan from the heat.
After 10 minutes remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle the leeks with the salt and pepper.
Just leave the leeks in the pan whilst you roll out the pastry…
Place the pastry on a lightly floured board and…
…continue rolling it out until it’s 3 mm / 1/8″ in thickness all around (aiming for a square shape with rounded corners).
Carefully lay the pastry over the leeks and the top of the frying pan and…
….then work your way around the edge, rolling the pastry inwards and tucking it in neatly as you go.
I have no idea why but aside from eating the Tarte…this is my favourite part, I just find it really satisfying!
Prick the pastry all over with a fork…
…and then place in the oven and bake it for 40 minutes or until the pastry is a deep golden brown colour all over.
Now, turn your grill/broiler onto a medium heat.
Tarte Tatin is served upside down…I mean the right side up…I mean…I don’t know…it needs to be flipped! It’s also served whilst still hot or warm.
Another warning – A piping hot pan handle and just as hot caramel inside the pan!…even I’m feeling nervous writing about it!
So, to turn it out, first run a knife around between the pastry and the frying pan to loosen it.
Then, lay your serving plate upside down over the frying pan and…
…then carefully flip both the pan and the plate over.
Remove the pan and…just look at it! It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?!
And to make it taste and look even more magical, scatter the crumbled feta over the Tarte and…
…popping it under the grill/broiler for 5-10 minutes (depending on how hot your grill is) or until the feta has slightly browned.
- It’s up to how much you want to brown it. I didn’t take this one too far as I didn’t want to freak anyone out with it looking a tad burnt! I usually prefer to take it to the brink of ‘burnt-town’ as the pastry around the edge and the tops of the leeks caramelise even further and it tastes even better!
If you like, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley just before serving.
- Tarte Tatin should be eaten as soon as possible as it goes soggy when reheated.
Serve with a salad. 🙂