By Lori Lynn Hirsch Stokoe, Food Writer and Photographer
Stéphanie Tatin’s inadvertent “mistake” in cooking an apple pie upside-down has become a part of culinary history.
Back in the late 1800s in France’s Loire Valley, two sisters took the duties of running L’Hotel Tatin after the death of their father. Caroline managed the business side of the hotel and her older sister Stéphanie ran the kitchens. While she was an accomplished cook, Stéphanie also had a reputation for being a bit scatterbrained.
Her apple tart was already very popular with the local hunters. Legend has it that on this particular day, she cooked her apples as usual, in sugar and butter but something went wrong. It is unclear whether she was distracted and cooked the apples so long that they became deeply caramelized, or that she just forgot to line her pan with pastry dough. Without time to start over, Stéphanie placed a sheet of pastry on top of the darkened apples and put the pan in the oven. To make it appear like her everyday tart, once cooked, she inverted it onto a platter and served it hot. The guests loved the light flaky crust and the deeply caramelized apples. It was an instant hit and went on to become the hotel’s signature dish.
Years later, her tart made it onto the menu of the famous Parisian restaurant Maxim’s, where it was called La Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin (the tart of two unmarried women named Tatin). Eventually, Stéphanie’s recipe of just four components — apples, sugar, butter, pastry dough — baked in an unconventional manner, became world famous.
Her method has been endlessly copied and transformed. Creative cooks have made over Tarte Tatin (pronounced tart tah-TAN) with all sorts of fruits and vegetables including plums, pears, apricots, even tomatoes and onions.
With sweet, earthy, flavors and rich colors, my Squash, Maple & Bacon Tarte Tatin was inspired by that classic inverted French pie originally made with apples.
But be sure to serve it right away ~ while the heady aromas of Autumn waft from the warm tarte, the sage is crispy, the cheese is melting, and the pastry is light and flaky.
Squash, Maple & Bacon Tarte Tatin Recipe
1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, cubed
1 acorn squash – peeled, seeded, cubed
salt and pepper
4 slices smoked bacon, trimmed of excess fat and diced
1/4 cup butter, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
2 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1/3 cup hazelnuts – toasted, chopped
1 sheet defrosted store-bought puff pastry dough
a handful fresh sage leaves
aged goat cheese, small wedge
Toss squash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven in a single layer for about 20 to 25 minutes until al dente.
Sauté bacon in a small amount of olive oil until cooked but not crisp. Drain on paper towels.
In a cast iron pan, heat 1/4 cup butter with maple syrup and dark brown sugar. When the butter starts to bubble, stir in the bacon.
Add cooked squash to pan and stir to coat. Add fresh thyme leaves. Sprinkle hazelnuts over the squash mixture.
Cut puff pastry dough into a circle slightly larger than the circumference of the pan. Lay the dough over the squash mixture and tuck the sides in around the edges. Pierce four steam holes in the dough. Bake at 400 degree until the pastry is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
While the Tarte Tatin is baking, fry whole sage leaves in 1 tablespoon butter until crisp, about one minute. Reserve on paper towels.
When the pastry is golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Place a wide shallow serving platter over the pan. Invert the Tarte Tatin onto the platter, carefully lifting off the pan.
Immediately top the Tarte Tatin with crumbled goat cheese so it begins to melt. Finally, top with fried sage leaves.
Lori Lynn Hirsch Stokoe blogs about food, wine, and entertaining at Taste With The Eyes http://www.tastewiththeeyes.com and tweets as Tasteblog at https://twitter.com/tasteblog.