Pear tarte tatin

Here’s another French classic that has made it onto our favourites list. A traditional tarte tatin is made with apples, but I’ve gone for pears here, although poached quinces would work wonderfully too. You could, of course, use apples – my favourites are granny smiths. 

Ingredients:

Baked pears
4 small pears
110g (½ cup) caster sugar
20g unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways and seeds scraped
2 tablespoons brandy

100g caster sugar
100ml brandy
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways and seeds scraped
50g unsalted butter, cubed
1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
Cream or ice-cream, to serve

Directions:

1. To make the baked pears, preheat the oven to 160°C. Butter an ovenproof dish that will fit the pears snugly.

2. Peel, quarter and core the pears. Arrange the pears in the dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the pears, then dot with a little butter and some of the vanilla seeds. Pour in the brandy and cover with baking paper and foil. Bake for 1½–2 hours, or until the pears are soft and light golden brown. Remove and set aside.

3. Increase the oven to 190°C. You will need an ovenproof frying pan to cook the tart. Put the pan over medium heat and add the sugar, brandy, vanilla seeds and bean. Let the sugar dissolve and cook until the mixture forms a light caramel.

4. Add the baked pears, arranging them neatly in the pan, and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan gently to make sure the pears aren’t catching on the base. Dot with the cubed butter, then lay the pastry over the top. Using a wooden spoon, tuck the pastry edge down around the pears, taking care not to touch the caramel, as it is very hot.

5. Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the caramel is bubbling up around the edge. Remove from the oven.

6. Get a serving plate that is larger than your pan and put the plate on top of the pan. Using oven gloves to protect your hands, invert the pan onto the plate. Allow the caramel to cool slightly before serving with cream or ice-cream.

Image and recipe from All Day Café by Stuart McKenzie (Murdoch Books RRP $39.99). Photography: © Armelle Habib 2017.