Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Tarte Tatin Disaster: GBBO Week #3

As you have probably guessed from the title of this post, this story ultimately does not end well. However, a small success in pastry making was achieved! So read on and find out where it all went wrong, and a little bit right. You may know that I have promised to make something every week that the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) bakers make. On Tuesdays episode they made tarte tatin, Mary Berry's treacle tart, and finally a showstopping fruit tart suitable for display in a patisserie window. The fruit tart produced the most visually impressive results. Brendan used dragon fruit on his for an exotic twist (pictured below). And Stuart did a stunning raspberry topped tart with layers of chocolate inside.

The thought of making any of these tarts intimidated me, so I picked the least intimidating one - tarte tatin. It is a french dish and is basically a fruit tart (most commonly apple) that is cooked upside down. The fruit is caramelised as it bakes.

I made my pastry by putting the following ingredients into a bowl and rubbing together with my fingers until a dough formed:

175g plain flour
75g butter
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp. caster sugar
Pinch of salt

I then kneaded the dough for 2 minutes. It is very important not to over work pastry! Then forming into a ball, covering in cling film, and popping into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I cut and peeled several apples.

And arrange them very neatly in a pie tin.

I melted 125g butter in a pan, and added 200g caster sugar, and let it caramelise. Now this is perhaps the point where I burnt the sugar, I'm not sure. The recipe said to let it caramelise till it was a deep golden brown, and it did look that colour. Seen as it took Manisha from GBBO 8 attempts to caramelise her sugar, I am going to say that this is a tricky operation that can easily go wrong!

My second potential mistake was that I poured the caramelised sugar on top of the apples, instead of putting the apple into the sugar mixture. The recipe said to cook the apples on the hob at a high heat until they caramelised, which I though I did correctly. But it could have been too late at this point!

Rolling out the pastry was pretty straightforward. Then I put it over the fruit and tucked in at the sides. There was a lot of liquid oozing out the sides, but by this point I just wanted to get the thing in the oven.

I baked it at 190C/375F/Gas 5 for about 20 minutes. The pastry went lovely and crispy on top - no soggy bottom for me!

I turned it out and this happened...

It all stuck to the pan! Argh!

I neatened things up but the tarte tatin still looked like a burnt mess.

It did not taste nice either. Very horrible. It is easy to give this the title of 'Worst Thing I Have Ever Made'. On the bright side, the pastry had cooked really well and was lovely and crispy! Just a shame it was coated in the burnt apple and sugar mess.

So the whole thing went in the bin. I have to say I'm really pleased I conquered pastry as I thought this would be my main issue. I am disappointed that this didn't work out though. Mistakes are often made in my baking, but I have never had to throw anything away before. I was quite sad about it, but baking is a learning experience. I will definitely be trying this again as now I have failed, I want to do better and succeed next time. I have been doing some research on tarte tatins and will be adjusting my technique. Here's hoping my next tarte tatin attempt will be edible!

**UPDATE** See how I conquered this recipe second time round - click here.


  1. Ah boy, I do sympathise with you! I am forever straying from the recipe just that little bit.

  2. I just had my tarte tatin disaster last night and I feel your pain! The second attempt looked good though! Well done!

  3. Ah no! I hope it goes better next time!