Before heading out to the England to film Season 4 of Great American Baking Show, my mother-in-law suggested that I make a Tarte Tatin because it could be a challenge on the show. I added it to my long list of recipes to try out before heading over but never did get a chance to make one.
Lo and behold, our technical challenge for Pastry Week… Tarte Tatin. Despite never having made one before, my Shallot & Thyme Tarte Tatin snagged me first place in the technical challenge that week and was the most requested bake after that episode aired. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to keep the technical recipes so I had to do a bit of re-creating from memory. The recipe below is pretty close to the original if not spot on.
The one thing that was readily available is Paul Hollywood’s recipe for the Rough Puff Pastry. It is a pretty simple recipe to follow and execute, but if you don’t want to deal with making your own pastry, store bought is fine.
If you do decide to go the homemade route for a rough puff, or full puff pastry, do that first. Get your dough made, rolled out, and cut into a disc that is just larger than your skillet. Store on a baking sheet in the freezer covered with parchment until ready to use.
Choice of pan is important here. You need to make sure that the skillet or dish is safe for both the stove top and in the oven. I picked up an enameled cast iron baking dish, similar to a Le Creuset but at a fraction of the cost, here on Amazon: Enameled Cast Iron Tarte Tatin Pan. But you don’t need to buy special equipment , a heavy duty skillet will get the job done.
After all of the work that goes into making a Tarte Tatine, noting is worse than getting to the finish line and not being able to get the tarte out of the pan, or having it fall apart in the process. Here are a few tips for separating that Tarte from its pan in one piece.
- First things first, work while the pan is still hot. You will want to give your Tarte a moment to rest when it comes out of the oven but resting too long will allow the caramelization on the shallots to set optimal resting time 2-3 minutes.
- You will be tempted to use a cooling rack to turn out your Tarte but holding on to that rack and the pan while wearing oven mitts and flipping everything together is just a recipe for disaster. I like to use the plate that I used as a template for cutting my dough disc.
- Lastly, have confidence in your flip. A hesitant flip will cause the Tarte to get jostled around creating a messy and possibly broken Tarte. Flip quickly in a smooth motion for best results.
And it’s ok if a couple of shallots stick to the pan. Just pick them off and nestle them back into place. If you don’t tell, no one will know!
Shallot & Thyme Tarte Tatin
A savory take on the Tarte Tatin with caramelized shallots, fresh thyme, and flaky puff pastry. As seen on the Great American Baking Show, Season 4.
- 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 15-20 Shallots of similar size, peeled trimmed, and cut in half horizontally (parallel to the root)
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt dissolved in 1 Tbsp warm water
- 2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 recipe Paul Hollywood's Rough Puff Pastry or 1 sheet store bought puff pastry
- additional 1-2 tsp fresh Thyme leaves for garnishing
Make your Rough Puff Pastry dough or open frozen puff pastry and roll out to a square just larger than the size of your skillet/pan. Trim the square into a circle - I like to use a dinner plate that is just larger than the size of my baking dish. Set the disc of dough aside in the freezer until you are ready for it later.
Preheat your oven to 425F and set your rack to the middle of the oven.
Trim the tips and roots off of shallots and peel them. Cut them in half width-wise (parallel to the cuts you made trimming the roots and tips).
With you cooking vessel on the stovetop, set your burner to just slightly lower than medium heat.
Melt the butter an honey together.
Once the butter is completely melted, arrange the shallots cut-side down around the pan as tightly as possible. Start with the larger ones and fill in any gaps with the smaller shallots.
Cover with a lid or piece of foil and cook for 5 minutes.
Uncover and check the shallot. They should just be starting to soften and faintly starting to caramelize. If you see too much browning, turn the heat down a bit. No brown at all? Turn it up a bit.
Add the salt water evenly over the shallots, re-cover, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Uncover and add the vinegar to the pan trying to distribute it as evenly as possible. Cover and cook 5 minutes longer.
Remove from the heat and let rest uncovered while you pull the pastry out of the freezer. Allow the pastry to sit at room temperature for 2-3 minutes.
Place the pastry disc over the shallots and, using a spatula, tuck the edges of the pastry down the sides of the pan creating a dome-like shape over the shallots.
Place the tarte into the oven and reduce the heat down to 375F.
Bake until the pastry is golden and flaky, 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a minute or two before inverting the Tarte Tatin onto a plate or serving dish.
Sprinkle 1-2 tsp of additional Thyme leaves on the top of the Tarte before serving. Best served warm from the oven but it is also quite good at room temperature.
If you don't have Sherry vinegar, you can substitute with Balsamic.