Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tarte Tatin


Visitors arrive on horseback at the stunning, expansive castle surrounded by hunting grounds. After waiting to be invited in, they are ushered to a spiral staircase. As they climb the stairs, a nobleman inside descends them hurriedly, emerges through a  hidden door and steps into a stagecoach, leaving the grounds as quickly as he can.
Both characters are in Chambord, a hunting castle in the Loire Valley, France covered with turrets that look like they're made out of cookies and candy. In this region, castles and 16th century Italian-style palaces dot the countryside. Chambord has a winding double staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci, so that the inhabitants could easily escape at the same time as their visitors take the staircase upwards, in the opposite direction. 
Another palace, pictured above, is called Chenonceaux and it stretches on arches across the Cher River. 

The Tatin sisters, Caroline and Stephanie made this tart for the first time in the 1880's. They used basic ingredients: sugar, apples, butter, flour, and water. At the time, they used unpeeled apples, though nowadays most people peel them before cooking. They began a hotel in 1894, and its most famous dessert was this tart.

200 grams flour
100 grams butter, chopped in small pieces
500 grams warm water or milk
1 pinch of salt
Apple topping
2 kilograms of apples, peeled, cored, and halved
200 grams of sugar
75 grams of butter

Mix the dough for the crust and chill in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Place butter and sugar in a skillet. Add apples, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the apples, and let the sugar mixture thicken. Place the apples in a 12-inch pan. Add the caramel, then cover everything with the dough round. Poke holes in the top of the dough. Place in oven and bake for thirty minutes. Remove from oven, then turn over onto a plate so the apples are on top. Cut and serve.


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