A citrus and spice tarte Tatin is proper winter comfort food, best eaten in February when blood oranges are in season and we need a hit of spice and color to see us through.
There are elements to this dish that transfer very well to other types of desserts. For example, you can exchange pastry for a sponge batter to make an upside-down cake. If you don’t want to make crème anglaise you can serve instead with Chantilly cream – just whip cream until fairly stiff and stir in a tablespoon of icing (confectioners’) sugar mixed with a generous pinch of finely ground cardamom.
- 2–3 blood oranges depending on size
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter chilled and diced
- Seeds extracted from 2 tsp cardamom pods lightly crushed
- 10 1/2 ounces block of puff pastry
- Plain all-purpose flour for dusting
FOR THE CRÈME ANGLAISE
- 1 cup plus 1 tbsp whole milk
- 1 cup plus 1 tbsp double heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon cardamom pods lightly crushed
- 1 coffee bean
- 1 1/4 inch piece of vanilla pod
- 1/4 cup caster superfine sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF
- Top and tail the blood oranges, then slice very thinly. Set aside.
- Put the water in the base of a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or similar ovenproof pan. Sprinkle the sugar over the water in an even layer. Heat gently, resisting the urge to stir, just shaking every so often, until the sugar has melted and turned a light golden brown – you don’t want it too dark at this stage. The water will help stop it browning too quickly around the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cardamom seeds, trying not to froth it up too much.
- Arrange the best orange slices in the caramel. On a lightly floured work surface, thinly roll out the pastry (to around 3mm / 1/8 inch), then prick all over with a fork. Cut into a round very slightly larger than your skillet, then lie it over the oranges, making sure the edges are tucked in.
- Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
- For the crème anglaise, put the milk and cream in a saucepan with the cardamom pods, coffee bean, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Bring to the boil, slowly. When on the point of boiling, remove from the heat and leave to infuse until cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together until pale with a mousse-like consistency. Reheat the milk and cream until almost at boiling point. Pour the milk over the egg yolks and sugar in a steady stream, stirring constantly, then rinse out the pan. Pour everything back into the pan and stir on a low heat until the custard thickens – it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon well enough that you can draw a line through it.
- Strain the custard into a jug. Serve hot or cold, but make sure you cover with plastic wrap – touching the top layer of the custard – to stop a skin from forming.