Tuesday 16 October 2012

A tarte tartin catastrophe. How NOT to cook an apple tart

I frequently flick through cooking shows on free to air TV. There are an abundance since the influx of Masterchef contestants that are interested in hosting them. It makes for some interesting cooking ideas.
Jamie's 30 minute meals is the definite standout.

One afternoon, while channel flicking, I came across an easy (looking) way to caramelise sugar in order to make a tart.
The TV chef (and I feel horrible that I have forgotten his name... and the show :)) simply pours his sugar into the pan first, then once the sugar has caramelised he added the butter and continued on with the normal technique of making the tart(e).

I thought.. "I can do that. Its simple!". So after a quick trip to the supermarket, I was loaded with apples, sugar, short-crust pastry and was ready to go.

The apples were peeled and cored and placed in a bowl containing 1 cup of water and the juice of a lemon. The bowl was then placed to the side.

An then the disaster commenced.

In my stupidity it did not occur to me to turn the heat up on the setting, when cooking sugar with butter you only need a medium heat. When there is no butter to assist with the dissolving, the heat needs to be higher.
I have a fear of caramel. My first attempt, a few years back, nearly lead to the house being burnt down and required a heavy duty oven cleaner to rid the evidence from the saucepan.

So into the saucepan the sugar went... alone. And slowly, the sugar began to harden... but only so slightly. Caramel takes about 5 minutes. I was there for 10 before I thought; "I don't think this is working... Maybe I should add the butter."
And my caramel looked lovely... what with its lumpy chunks of hardened sugar and a nice layer of liquified butter on top.

But I was not to be deterred...
 In went the apples, and because I was in such a rush (for fear the chunky caramel would solidify), I didn't bother to cook them on the stove top. On went the pastry and the entire fry-pan was placed into the oven.

When it was ready, the delicious smelling tart was pulled from the oven and left to cool.

The first sign that things had gone array (oh no, the previous ones had obviously not been big enough) was when I attempted to turn the tart over into the cake dish. All the caramel ran out the side and all over the bench. I was in hysterics. It was a complete disaster and my dog was on the biggest sugar high of his life. There was caramel on the splash back, on the bench, on the cook top, on me, in the sink and on the floor.
I tasted the part I had salvaged from the avalanche... Then wished it had not been saved at all.
The caramel had crunchy pieces,  the apple was undercooked and it did not look so appetizing.

I wish I had not been covered in such mess and the clean up had not been so swift (to avoid never ending sticky-ness) because a photo of my experience would have been delightful.

Onward and upward... I shall attempt it again... in time.

One plus; Hamish (the dog) thought it was the best apple tart he had ever tasted :)

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