Research shows that the Tarte Tatin was first created by accident at the Hotel Tatin, South of Paris, in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. There are conflicting stories concerning the tart's origin, but the predominant one is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart's origin, Stéphanie baked a caramelized apple tart upside-down by mistake. Regardless she served her guests the unusual dish hot from the oven and a classic was born.
Let's be thankful that Stephanie decided to continue despite the fact that it was looking like a disaster in the making, because she managed to create one of my favourite desserts. In all fairness, anything that comprises sugar, butter, cooked apples and pastry is always going to tick my boxes. This picture is a previous attempt at recreating the French classic.
Although this dish is traditionally made with apples, rhubarb works incredibly well with this technique. Oven baking rhubarb with sugar and butter creates a rich toffee flavoured topping which when served with good quality vanilla ice-cream, tasted delicious.
4 stalks rhubarb, cut into 3" strips
150g caster sugar
200g puff pastry - ready roll is fine, top chefs don't always make their own pastry so why should you?
Evenly spread the butter oven the base of a cake tin. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the butter, then layer the rhubarb over the sugar. Try to pack the rhubarb as close together as possible.
Bake the rhubarb for two hours in an oven preheated to 180C. Once the rhubarb has been in the oven for just short of two hours, roll out out the pastry to the required size of your cake tin. Remove the hot tin from the oven, cover the rhubarb with the pastry making sure to tuck the edges in at the side of the cake tin.
Place back in the oven until the pastry has cooked through, 20 minutes or so should be enough. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes, the cooked rhubarb will be very hot!
After 10 minutes, carefully turn out onto a plate before serving.
Best served with vanilla ice-cream, although double cream or custard will also work well.If you're looking for a dessert to impress for Valentine's Dinner, this easy to prepare dish is a sure fire winner.