Learning from your mistakes is something that any self-improvement manual will advise. Learning from the mistakes of two sisters from Sologne in France is something only a cookbook will tell you. Tarte Tatin, you see, was born of a mistake.
Sisters Caroline and Stéphanie Tatin ran a small hotel in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron in the Loir-et-Cher département of central France. One day, Stéphanie accidentally left apples cooking too long. When she looked in the pan, she could see they had caramelised. Not wanting to start over, she came up with a plan to salvage her dessert.
Rather than waste them, she topped the apples with a sheet of pastry and put them in the oven. When the pastry was done, she took the dish out and served it upside down.
Voilà: a new dish was born.
“Word even reached the chef at Maxim’s in Paris, who travelled to Lamotte-Beuvron to try it for himself”
It proved popular locally and word even reached the chef at Maxim’s in Paris, who travelled to Lamotte-Beuvron to try it for himself. So impressed was he that his take on the dish appeared on his restaurant’s menu soon after, billed as tarte des demoiselles Tatin.
If, like me, you’re trying to make the dish in Britain, the easiest apple to get hold of that will work well is a Cox. In France, the Reine des Reinettes type is ideal.
I like to serve mine with a vanilla-based accompaniment. My homemade vanilla ice cream works well or, if I’m feeling lazy, one of those upmarket ready-made custards full of vanilla seeds.
Now all I need to do is work out if I can turn the mistakes I make in the kitchen into dishes of world renown. Overlooked, gelatinous rice anyone?