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What’s cooking today: Pear Tarte Tatin

What’s cooking today: Pear Tarte Tatin
Tony Jackman’s pear tarte Tatin. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Pears are the second-most popular choice for a tarte Tatin after apples, the fruit with which they were first made and have been traditionally ever since the Tatin sisters discovered a new way to make an apple (or pear) tart in the 1880s.

Bless the Tatin sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline, for giving us this recipe, which happened by accident when something “went wrong” with a recipe one day in their restaurant in France, and it turned out, well, right. Thanks to chance and error, they gave us the tart named after them and now regarded as one of the world’s finest desserts. Here’s an alternative recipe made with pears and brandy as well as the traditional caramelised syrup.

I used beautiful Tru-Cape forelle pears, with their blushing pink skin, for this tarte. They’re firm but sweet and hold their own in a tarte Tatin with aplomb.

(Serves 6)

Ingredients

1 packet frozen puff pastry, thawed

6 fresh pears, peeled, cored and halved

1/4 cup Die Mas Ver in die ou Kalahari 5-year-old brandy

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

Method

Core and peel the pears and halve them.

On a low heat, melt the butter in a heavy ovenproof pan with the sugar and brandy. When melted and starting to caramelise, lay the pear halves down in any pattern you fancy, flat side down at first. 

Leave it to caramelise slowly over a gentle heat, keeping an eye. Tilt the pan this way and that to help even out the browning of the sugar. You’re looking for a luxuriously caramelised, buttery sauce.

Once the pears are partly cooked on one side, use two spoons (not forks) to turn them so that the round sides face downwards. Continue cooking in the same way, tilting the pan now and then, until the sauce is richly caramelised.

The above cooking time should take about 20 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a floured board and cut out a round a little bigger than the width of the top of the pan. Lay it over the top, then tuck the edges underneath using the handle of a tablespoon.

Prick the pastry here and there with a fork.

Bake in a preheated 200℃ oven until the pastry is crisp and golden, about 25 minutes.

Allow it to cool before disturbing the tart, which enables the crust to set and helps ensure that it will not break while being turned out.

Turn out onto a large plate, by holding the plate over the top of the pan and then turning it over deftly and firmly, without letting it slide off the plate once turned. If the pears slip out of pattern, simply rearrange them. Serve with cream or ice cream. DM

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

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