Moving on from pumpkins to other seasonal produce, I have this amazing Shallot Tarte Tatin that was featured in BBC Good Food magazine’s October issue. To avoid whipping out my thesaurus to find a suitable word to describe this Shallot Tarte Tatin with Homemade Puff Pastry, I will just resort to using the favoured acronym of the youth of today; one that all will understand: OMG!! Yes, it was that good. We already know how insanely good caramelised onions are, especially in a tart, but actually in any capacity, they are fabulous.
What better than taking small sweet shallots and caramelising them? OMG! Sorry.
When I saw this on my iPad edition of the magazine (I can’t get hard copies of it here in the US), I knew right away that I would be making this. I have very little time to cook from magazines and cookbooks anymore (maybe that’s why Martha is being all pissy, no one is buying her books) but every now and then, I make time. If it turns out well, I share it. This is so worth sharing!
The recipe itself is very straightforward and incredibly easy and quick, especially if you use ready made puff pastry. But hey, where’s the challenge in that :)? And because I relish the abuse, I decided to make my own puff pastry.
I’ve made layered pastry before but I wanted to practice some more and also, and this is the real reason, to buy a decent, butter, ready puff pastry, it’s like $11.00 for not even a pound! That’s insane. I can buy 4lbs (2kg) of butter for less than $8.00!
My pastry ended up being organic also, and cost me approximately $6.00 for 2 1/2 pounds! I used less than a pound of it and froze the rest in two batches to make something else later. If you have time, it really pays to make your own from scratch, and that goes for almost anything.
I also wanted to try the quick version of making puff pastry, also known as rough puff, because of how messy and rough it is at the beginning stages. The traditional way of making puff pastry involves a lot of rolling, folding and chilling, it takes all day, I know, I’ve done it making croissants (eventually after rolling and chilling all day, we had croissants at 8pm)
This rough puff method was really very quick. It still involved some turning and folding but it was quick. You can have puff pastry in under an hour, but if you can let it chill then it will benefit tremondously. You can make it in the morning and let it chill till lunch or dinner. I noticed it doesn’t rise as much as a traditionally rolled one, but for most things like this tarte tatin, it was perfect. It’s a bit hard to tell with a tarte tatin though, since you flip the tart and all the toppings flatten the puff pastry anyway. When I make my sausage rolls, I will see how well it does. It definitely tasted like a very rich puff pastry and I think it was the home made pastry that elevated the tatin to another level.
Serves: 6 servings tart tatin. Makes 2.5 lbs/1.2kg puff pastry.
- 1 pound/455g/ approx 3 31/3 cups plain/all purpose flour
- 1 pound/455g/4 sticks unsalted cold butter, cut in large cubes
- 1¼ cups/228g/295mL cold water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound/455g shallots
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar/demerara sugar
- ½ stick/50g butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or a teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- plain flour, for dusting
- 1 pound/500g puff pastry, frozen or home made
- Sift the flour and salt together onto a clean counter top.
- Add the cold cubes of butter.
- Using a pastry scraper, cut the butter into the flour.
- Once the butter is in smaller chunks and is covered with the flour, add the water, a little at a time.
- You may not need all the water so dribble a little at a time.
- As you add the water, toss the flour and butter onto itself mixing and shaping.
- Use the pastry scraper to keep a neat rectangular pile.
- Add flour to keep it from sticking, but only if really needed.
- It will be messy and rough.
- Try and coax the flour and butter globs into a letter fold: into thirds.
- Turn the pastry "letter" long ways, and roll out the messy dough.
- It will not be smooth at all, but just flatten the dough out with the rolling pin.
- Roll into somewhat of a rectangle again and fold into thirds.
- Do this about 4 times and by that time, the dough will be smooth and pastry like.
- The dough will benefit greatly from chilling after the 4th turn.
- Chill for 30 minute to allow the butter to firm up and produce those flaky layers.
- After the dough has chilled, a couple more turns adds more layers but you can use it.
- Another period of rest can really help the dough so if you are making this ahead of time, chilling will help.
- You can also freeze the pastry at this point.
- If you're using it to make the tarte tatin, you need only 1 pound/455g.
- Divide the rest into two and freeze in portions.
- Preheat the oven to 400℉/200℃
- Pour boiling water over the shallots and leave them until the water cools.
- This allows the skin to peel off easily.
- Peel and halve the shallots, then set aside.
- Put the sugar in a 9 inch/24cm oven proof skillet, on medium low heat.
- Heat the pan until the sugar dissolves.
- Watch carefully because it can burn quickly.
- Add the butter, thyme and the balsamic vinegar or pepper.
- Careful since it will splutter.
- Remove the pan from heat and put the shallots into the pan, cut size down.
- Roll out the puff pastry, about 1"/2cm larger than the skillet.
- Drape the pastry over the shallots and tuck in around the shallots.
- Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden.
- Leave to rest for a minute and then invert onto a platter.
So, if you want to break away from the pumpkins, pears and apples of fall, try shallots. You will not regret making this tart. Served with a nice green salad, maybe with some fall fruit or greens and some goat cheese or feta cheese, this makes a perfect lunch or even an appetiser plate.
Hope your weekend is going well, my friends. I am at a soccer game today followed by dinner at a friend’s house. I can’t wait to relax tonight; good food, good friends and great conversation, there’s nothing better. What did you do or plan to do this weekend?