Saturday, 31 October 2015

Apple Tart Tatin with Vanilla Ice Cream

Remember when Gordon Ramsay used to be behind the stove? You have to go back a good few years to recall the shouting, bullying adrenaline junkie who steered his team closer to that ultimate three star accolade. These days big G is a calmer figure. A good life in the states and a blossoming family life with a touch of hardcore triathalon competition thrown in, who can blame the man for cashing in on his success?

Ramsay was arguably the guy who grasped my attention long enough to convince me that cooking was a hobby worth pursuing. Shows like The F-word and Boiling Point were captivating, showing a life in the kitchen never before seen in the public eye. I had the good fortune to eat in his restaurant at Royal Hospital Road last year for my birthday where the service, setting and food are all of three star standard. Its easily the best restaurant and dining experience I've ever had.

Opening up Ramsay's acclaimed 'Three Star Chef' book for the first time in ages this week and after having a nosey in the desserts section decided on tackling the tart tatin. On the face of it's a relatively simple dessert which has had it's critics. The Guardian's Jay Rayner mocked Ramsay for continuing to put the tart on his menu's but having tasted it myself at the restaurant I can see why Gordon still has it pride of place amongst the desserts.

The starting point is the vanilla ice cream. Six egg yolks are beaten with caster sugar until creamy. Warm up equal quantities of double cream and milk then add two vanilla pods with the seeds scraped out into the liquid. Warm the liquid and place a little over the eggs, whisk and stir the rest in before placing back onto the heat to create a custard.

After sieving its a simple job of cooling the custard down and churning it in an ice cream maker. The ice cream was a gorgeous texture, just between gelato and hard ice cream studded with the seeds from the vanilla. Delicious.

Peeling and coring the apples (Pink Lady apples as requested) and cutting into quarters was normal enough. Ramsay instructs you to leave these to dry out (or rather, go brown) for a couple of hours which wasn't so normal. When you think about it though the water removed from the apples will concentrate the flavour of the fruit and plus it'll be covered with the caramel within the tart itself.

I decided to use a Paella pan for the tart given the ease of shape and depth. Caramel forms in an instant with a pan like this so all you fan's of Spanish cookery, you have been warned!

Placing the apples into the hot caramel is a risk in itself. I'd recommend tongs or decent reflex reactions. Once you have the apples in a shape that you're happy with simply drape that pastry disc over, tuck it in around the base and place in a hot oven for half an hour.

The tart was a great colour and came out without too much fuss. It's a classic and you can see why Ramsay still has this on the menu, crisp pastry and sweet caramelised apples are just perfect and the ice cream is the richest, most smooth and probably best I've made to date. Brilliant dessert.

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