Apple Fruit Tatin Recipe
I was scheduled to give a tour of our local botanical garden to a group of children this morning, but a driving rain shower interfered. The rain continued, and continued–a good day for baking! I was probably over-zealous in buying summer fruits at the markets this week, because the fruits have been beautiful, colorful, plump and wonderfully ripe and aromatic. What to do with all of those stone fruits that may be getting past their prime? Bake a Summer Fruit Tatin!
Most readers are probably familiar with Tarte Tatin, that glorious French apple dessert that is part tart, part buttery upside down cake, with caramelized apples. This fruit tart originated in the Normandy region of France, where apple orchards are abundant. However, the apples are considered to be inferior for eating out of hand but are perfect for cooking. So, Normandy is the land of Calvados, hard cider, and many apple desserts including the luscious Tarte Tatin. Alas, we shall have to wait until autumn, with its plentiful apples to bake a Tarte Tatin!
But, you can make a Tatin with other fruit. Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, has a wonderful, easy recipe for Plum Tatin. When people think of French food, they often expect that the recipe will be quite fussy and complicated, but this is a misconception. I find that most French food, while layered with flavors, are prepared with specific but unfussy techniques. Tarte Tatin is a great example of this, with one pan preparation in a cast iron skillet, where a layer of caramel is prepared and then covered with apple slices, and then the sweet dough.
Ina’s Plum Tatin is not an authentic tatin, in that it is prepared in a pie pan, with the caramel made in a separate pan first. The fruit is covered with a cake batter rather than a sweet pastry dough. But, it is a simple technique with delicious results. I encourage you to view recipes as a beginning and to use your creativity when you cook. Be fearless in the kitchen, s Julia Child would say. I did not have enough plums, nor enough apricots, nor enough nectarines to make a singular fruit tart. So, I improvised, and peeled and sliced organic black plums, sunset-colored apricots and nectarines and decided to be as artful as I could be in arranging them in my Tatin. Here is the recipe, adapted from ina Garten’s Plum Cake Tatin, from The Barefoot Contessa, Barefoot in Paris, 2004.
4 large plums, pitted and sliced into thick slices
5 apricots, pitted, 3 halved for the center of the Tatin, and the remainder sliced
1 large nectarine, pitted and thickly sliced
Butter to butter pie pan generously
1 cup granulated sugar for the caramel
3/4 cup granulated sugar for the cake batter
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup sour cream (or, you can use lowfat Greek-style yogurt, combined with heavy cream to make 1/3 cup)
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
First, generously butter a 9 inc pie plate, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Next, cut up the fruit and arrange it in a pleasing design, be creative! Cover the pie plate well with fruit.
Next, make the caramel, by swirling 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan over high heat until it becomes a golden amber color. Do not stir–just swirl. The sugar mixture should reach 360 on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, just gage the readiness by the color–pale golden amber color is good! Pour the caramel over the fruit in the pie pan.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter and 3/4 cup sugar til light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat in til well-combined. Now, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and extracts til well-combined. Finally, add the flour, baking powder and salt, and on low speed, just combine thoroughly. Spread the cake batter over the fruit in the pie pan. Bake for 3-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean Cool for 15 minutes and then invert on a plate with an indentation in the center to catch the caramel syrup.
It is delicious served warm–the cake is moist and buttery in flavor, and cooking seems to enhance the sweet flavors of the fruits. You can dust the top lightly with powdered sugar, if you wish, but I rather liked the bejeweled appearance of the fruits and glaze on their own.