My tarte tatin wasn’t as pretty as the photo in the magazine, but it was quite tasty. Almost the whole dish was gone, and I had one request for the recipe.
Since I had burnt caramel earlier that morning, I was nervous about caramelizing the pears. I probably didn’t actually get to the caramel state with the sugar and water. After baking, it was a bit watery, but I poured off the excess so that it didn’t get soggy (the dessert had to sit out several hours before I would serve it) and still ended up with a great dish!
Pear Tarte Tatin with Almond Pastry
Fine Cooking No. 23, reprinted in Big Buy
Ingredients for the Pastry:
- 1 c. cake flour
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup lightly packed ground almonds
- 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 3 Tbs. heavy cream
Ingredients for the Caramelized Pears
- 3 lbs. pears (about 6 large), peeled, halved, and cored
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger tossed with 1 tsp. sugar (I used dried ginger)
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 c. water
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
Make the Pastry:
In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, salt, and sugar. Pulse briefly until the mixture has pea-size lumps and the rest looks like cornmeal. Add the almonds and pulse for just another second. Mound the mixture on a work surface, make a well, and pour the egg yolk and cream into the center. Continue mixing the ingredients until you have a “shaggy dough” (mine was quite thick and sticky, and reminded me of the dough used in scones). Knead the dough just until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Caramelize pears: Cut the pears lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Toss them with the ginger-sugar mixture (1 Tbs. ginger and 1 tsp. sugar). Heat a 9-inch cast-iron pan with an ovenproof handle over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and water swirl the pan to combine. Watch the sugar syrup carefully as it bubbles. When it turns light brown, add the butter and cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, until the caramel is an even, deep brown. (Mine never browned, as I said above, but it did get to a candy-like state when it cooled. I ended up reheating it and using it anyway, even though I knew it wasn’t caramel.) Remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool slightly. Carefully arrange the pear slices in the caramel in a single concentric layer. Top with additional pear slices, continuing the circular pattern until the pears reach the top of the pan. (Pear slices will shrink as they cook.) Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook until the pears on the bottom layer are fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough.
Make Tarte Tatin: Heat oven to 450. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a 10 1/2-inch round. Either pick the dough up with your hands or roll the dough onto the rolling pin to move it to pan. Drape sough over the pan of pears to cover. Fold the extra dough onto itself to form rough border. Press the crust down onto the pears to compress them slightly.
Lower oven temperature to 400F. Bake the tarte until the pastry is crisp and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Carefully invert the tarte onto a serving plate with a rim to catch the caramel. Pour any caramel that stays in the pan over the tarte. (Again, my “caramel” was much more watery that caramel, so I poured off excess caramel so that the pastry crust didn’t get too soggy before serving.)