tarte tatin with plum tomatoes
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It’s true what everyone says about a plum tomato Tatin – it looks like a dessert. Only a dollop of whipped cream seems to be missing. Are these small apricots? Or very firm plums? Should I dust it with icing sugar or grab the tub of vanilla ice from the freezer?
The garlic gives the game away.
Cut corners by all means and use puff pastry. But it’s so much more rewarding when it’s a proper tart: slicing into shortcrust base rather than the squishy puff which goes soggy much too soon is worth the effort of producing the pastry. And the texture of crunchy crust work better with sweet slippery tomatoes.
I’ve made the traditional version with puff pastry and roasted tomato slices many times and it’s easy. This is a bit of a chore: blanch them, skin them, seed them, salt them – and that’s just the tomatoes. Pastry needs to be chilled, rolled, chilled. Then you have the ‘burnt-the-blasted-caramel-again’ moment.
It’s all worth it. Hunt the large plum tomatoes, San Marzano or similar, because they keep their shape fantastically well after skinning and don’t dissolve into mush like some other varieties, when blanched.
The only downside to the tarte is that it is usually gone far too soon.
tarte tatin with plum tomatoesServings: 2Time: about an hour and a half plus chilling pastry
, main course
, tarts and pies
- For the pastry:
- 125g (about 1 cup) plain flour
- 75g (½ cup) fine cornmeal
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 140g (1 stick plus 2 tbsp.) cold butter, diced
- 35g (½ cup) grated mature Cheddar or Gruyere
- a few springs of thyme, leaves stripped
- 6 tbsp. iced water
- For the tomato layer:
- 600g (1 ½ pound) plum or San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- thyme sprigs
To make the pastry, pulse the flours, salt, butter, cheese and the thyme leaves in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water and pulse until the pastry just comes together. Shape it into a ball, wrap it in foil and flatten to a disc. Chill for 2 hours.
Cut a cross in the top of each tomato. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and prepare a bowl of iced water. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water, leave them for 30 seconds or until the skins start to peel off, then drop them into the iced water. Peel the skins and cut each tomato in half vertically.
Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, place them on a plate lined with paper towels, sprinkle the cut sides with salt and turn them cut side down onto the towels. Leave for 30 minutes or so, then lightly pat dry with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Prepare a shallow gratin, flan or other ovenproof dish about 23cm in diameter. Place the brown sugar, butter and balsamic vinegar in the dish and transfer to the oven for 10 minutes or until it starts bubbling; give it a stir halfway through.
In the meantime roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a round a little bigger than the dish; you will want to tuck the edges in around the tomatoes. Return the rolled out pastry to the fridge.
Remove the dish with the bubbling caramel from the oven. Slice the garlic thinly into the dish, place a couple of sprigs of thyme around the slices and then arrange the tomatoes tightly in the dish, cut side up. Lay the pastry disc over tomatoes and tuck in the edges.
Pierce holes with a sharp knife in the pastry to let the steam escape. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until golden and crusty. Let it stand for 10 minutes to let the juices get absorbed.
Run a knife around the dish to release the pastry if it stuck in places. Place a large platter over the dish and invert it swiftly onto the platter.
Serve warm or at room temperature with green salad.