Sunday, April 13, 2008

Banana Tarte Tatin

I love tart tatin something wrong. It's not hard to understand why, after all, puff paste, fruit and caramelized sugars are the building blocks of deliciousness.

The tart tatin recipe that I (very begrudgingly) follow is from the pastry chef instructor that came in to teach us last semester. She wasn't a bad chef, but she was always harried, rushed and uninterested in us -- it was clear she was always in a rush to get out the door and beat traffic. Excuse us for intruding on your otherwise busy life, madam! And after her outburst towards me at the end of chocolate day, I'm forced to say she wasn't much of a teacher. (Clearly, allow for a lot of bias here.)

On the day we made tarte tatin in class, I worked with Potter since we'd already worked together to make our puff paste from scratch. Making it was incredibly time-consuming, and if I was making it at home, it would have cost me a pretty penny as well. There's a lot of butter in a puff paste. But we were glad we'd made it because everyone should taste, smell and touch real uncooked puff just once in their lives. It's like velvet made from butter, it's extraordinary.

Anyway, Potter chose to make his tart tatin with bananas while I kept traditional with apples. I loved mine, but I really loved his. Bananas are so perfect for this, it's like a bananas foster without the booze (although, you could take a snifter of it on the side if you wanted). Besides, there was a lot less prep work needed in the bananas since peeling apples isn't quite as easy.

This dessert has quickly become one of our favourites at home. Jason loves sugar, fat and bananas and I love that I can make a piping hot dessert in 30 minutes that looks amazing and isn't stuffed with scary things I can't pronounce. I don't think it keeps well, unfortunately, because the crust gets soggy from the caramel, but I'm not sure -- it's never been in our house long enough to know.

Banana Tart Tatin
(Adapted from Cindy Salvato)
Cindy also mentioned that you could used apples, pears, mangoes and pineapples for this -- basically anything that is rather high in pectin.

2 Tbsp soften unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 ripe (or overripe) bananas
1 8-inch circle of puff pastry*

Preheat the oven to 425F. In an eight inch Teflon coated sauce pan (that's safe to put in the oven - no plastic handles here kids!), spread the softened butter around the bottom. It's perfectly fine to leave large clumps of butter, it will melt anyway. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter.

Take the peeled bananas and arrange them in the pan so they all fit.** Over medium-high heat, cook the sugar, butter and bananas until the sugar begins to caramelize into a dark brown -- DON'T SHAKE THE PAN! It'll disrupt how the bananas were arranged.

When the sugar has become (mostly) dark brown, remove the pan from the heat and lay the puff pastry over the top of the bananas. Immediately place the entire pan into a 400F oven and bake until the lightest color on the puff is golden brown.

Once done, remove from the oven and invert it immediately onto a serving plate. Serve (and be careful, it's very hot).

*I made my own puff pastry for this, but you can just as easily by the pre-made kind from the supermarket - no judgment! I don't even use the traditional recipe for the puff, mine's a sort of fake puff.
**Suggestion: place two full bananas to create a 'circle' on the outside of the bottom, then break the third banana in half and copy the pattern in the center. (As shown in the photo.)


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