Dinner guests always say wow when they see this dessert. It’s so easy to make that once you get the hang of it, you won’t even need to memorise the quantities. Just note that you need an equal amount of sugar and butter by weight.
*This recipe serves 4 to 6.
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.
2. Melt 70g of the butter in a large heavy-based sauté pan with 70g of the sugar. Cook over a medium heat without stirring until it becomes a glossy caramel the colour of toffee. Remove from the heat.
3. If you like, you can pour the caramel into the bottom of a pie dish and arrange the pear halves, cut side down, over the caramel. Otherwise the traditional method is to make tarte tatin in the pan you used to make the caramel.
4. If you have any pears left over, cut them into smaller pieces and pack them into the gaps between the pear halves. Add the rest of the butter in small pieces around the pears and sprinkle the rest of the sugar over them.
5. Roll out your puff pastry until it’s large enough to cover the entire pie dish or sauté pan and place it over the pears. Press the pastry lightly so that it comes in contact with the pears and tuck it in along the sides of the dish or pan, then either fold the overhanging pastry into the corners or cut it away with a sharp knife. Cut a small hole in the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
6. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, but keep a close eye on it, as all ovens vary. You are looking for a golden pastry, but not burned.
7. Remove the tarte from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes. The pears will have released a lot of liquid and you need to remove all the excess before taking the tarte tatin out of the pan. Use a baking sheet to hold the tarte in the pan while you tip out the liquid into a clean container. Be careful, as the sugary syrup is very hot. Flip the tarte onto a serving dish and let it sit for a few minutes before carefully removing the pan or pie dish. Use some of the reserved liquid to brush any pears that look a little dry.
8. Serve warm with ice cream or crème fraîche. Tarte tatin needs to be eaten on the day it’s made, otherwise the pastry will turn soggy from the fruit.