Like most good things, the tarte Tatin was probably invented by accident: some say that in a town South of Orléans in the 1880s, Stéphanie Tatin was overworked and had left apples for a pie to overcook. Smelling burning, she hastily stuck the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, and bunged the pie into the oven in an attempt to rescue it. Despite the resulting tart being upside-down, it was a hit and soon became a signature dish there, as well as later being made well-known by Maxim’s. This dessert is traditionally made with two regional apple varieties (Reine des Reinettes and Calville) however any apple that will stay intact while cooking will work! And if you really want to know more on the history of the tarte Tatin, there’s a whole book on it.
1. Cover the tin in butter and then add the sugar, making sure it covers the bottom of the tin evenly.
2. Peel, core, cut and remove the seeds from the apples, slice them into pieces of about 2cm thick, then place a layer of them in the butter and sugar. Cut the leftover apples into smaller, rough chunks and fill in the gaps (and sprinkle the cinnammon on top if using it).
3. Cook the apples in the tin over your hob until there is almost no steam coming off them – this should take about half an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to about 200°c. Flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick. It should be in a rough disk shape, larger in diameter than that of the pan.
5. Cover the apples with the pastry and press the pastry into every crevasse between the apples – make sure to tuck the pastry into the edges of the tin too! You can now put it in the oven.
6. Wait until the pastry is golden brown and the caramel is bubbling around the edges of the tin before removing the dish from the oven.
7. Once the dish is cooked, you need to be very quick! Place a plate surface-down over the pan’s rim and, holding the two together, tip the pan upside down onto the plate so that the tart slips out. Remove the lid and there you have your tarte Tatin!