My kids love the popular Master Chef Australia series and every Sunday night we have a house tradition, which usually involves me trying a recipe from the MasterChef Australia website (www.masterchef.com.au). Last weekend we were keen to whip-up Alana Lowes’s tarte-tatin (one of the finalists from last season’s show) but we didn’t have any frozen puff pastry in the freezer. So we searched online for puff pastry thinking “how hard can it be?”. Turns out it takes a few hours to make the real thing…BUT we did find a quick and easy puff pastry at www.taste.com.au which worked a treat. As we didn’t have any golden delicious apples we replaced these with green Bartlett pears which are in season at the moment. The result was a deliciously light but winter warming dessert that is quick and easy to make.
Oh and for the best recipe we’ve seen on making a REAL puff pastry check out Alana’s blog at http://www.alanalowes.com.au/the-secret-to-the-perfect-rough-puff-pastry/
Note: a truely French Tart-Tatin is baked in an deep 20cm oven proof frying pan – as we don’t have one of those we poured the pears into a deep pie plate after they were softened on the hob – a bit more tricky than with a fry pan but completely doable.
Quick Puff Pastry
250 grams pastry flour (we used Lighthouse Brand flour we found at our local supermarket)
2 teaspoons salt
250 grams unsalted butter cut into cubes
100 ml ice water
6 green Bartlett pears peeled, quartered and seeds removed
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup caster (granulated) sugar
20 grams unsalted butter
5 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
Thickened cream to serve.
For the puff pastry:
Mix pastry flour and salt, rub in the butter using the tips of your fingers so the two ingredients are reasonably well incorporated, the flour should be heavy and damp like but you should still be able to see large cubes of butter pressed into the flour. Make a well in the centre of the flour/butter mixture, add the ice water and bring the mixture together into a ball of dough.
Roll out onto a floured surface shaping the dough into a rectangle. Fold the dough as you would a letter (so fold 1/3d of the pastry from the bottom, up into the centre, bringing the top 1/3d down). Turn the dough so the letter fold is on your left. Roll out again into a large rectangle and repeat the folding and rolling process twice more. As you roll and fold you will see the fat chunks of butter start to dissolve into the dough and become less apparent. The result should be a velvety soft rectangular pastry dough that requires a bit of resting before use. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
For the pear filling:
Pre-heat oven to 220°C (420°F).
Combine pears in non-reactive bowl with lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of caster (granulated) sugar put aside. Melt butter in a 20cm frypan (oven proof is preferred but not necessary as noted above) sprinkle remaining granulated sugar and cook on a medium heat shaking/stirring it with a wooden spoon until it turns an even coloured light brown. Add your pears to the pan and coat with the sugar/butter mixture, peal the thyme leaves off their stalks and sprinkle over the pan. Allow to bubble for no more than ten minutes.
Remove pastry from refrigerator and roll out to either cover your oven-proof fry pan or pie dish. If your fry pan is oven proof you can cover your pears with the rolled pastry, tucking the dough into the sides to create a kind of thick crust around the edges. Otherwise, you can pour your pears into an oven proof pie dish and roll the pastry over the top of the pears, again tuck the pastry at the edges so it has a thick crust around the edges.
Bake for 25 minutes – the crust should be a golden brown. Let cool for ten minutes before using a knife to loosen the edges and turning out onto a serving plate. Serve warm with thickened cream.