A tarte Tatin is fast, simple, and always a pleasure to eat. For this pear version, we've poached the pears quickly to infuse them with flavour; if they're slightly underripe, it'll also help soften them. Poaching the pears ahead will make this even easier to throw together, just keep them in the fridge out of the syrup. Either way, it's important the pears are dried well before they're added to the caramel – excess liquid will dilute it.
- 65 gm caster sugar
- 40 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- Three-quarters of a 375gm sheet of butter puff pastry (see note)
- Pouring cream or vanilla ice-cream, to serve
- 400 gm caster sugar
- 3 thin strips of orange rind, removed with a peeler
- 4 corella pears, ripe but firm, cored and halved
- 1For poached pears, combine sugar, orange rind and 500ml water in a saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium, add pears, bring to a simmer and cook until pears are infused and very slightly softened (5 minutes). Remove pears, pat completely dry with paper towels.
- 2Roll out pastry to a 25cm round, then trim to a 22cm round. Chill until needed. Preheat oven to 200°C. Scatter sugar over the base of a 20cm cast-iron or heavy stainless-steel frying pan and cook over high heat until sugar begins to dissolve and caramelise around the edges (1-2 minutes). Swirl pan occasionally until sugar caramelises (1-2 minutes). Add butter, swirl to combine (20-30 seconds), then turn off heat and arrange pears, cut-side up, over caramel. Cover with pastry, then quickly tuck edges into side of pan with a spoon.
- 3Score pastry 2-3 times in the centre to allow steam to escape, then bake until pastry is crisp, dark golden and puffed (15-20 minutes; cover with foil if pastry is becoming too dark on top).
- 4Remove pan from oven and tilt pan to drain extra juices carefully into a bowl. Stand for 2 minutes, then place a large plate on top of the pan and shake to loosen tart. Working quickly and very carefully, protecting yourself from the hot handle and the hot caramel, invert the tart onto the plate. Serve hot with reserved juices and cream or ice-cream with extra caramel to drizzle over.
We've used Carême puff pastry. Remaining pastry can be frozen and reserved for another use.