I´m not French. I´m a German living in France. Moving here was an active decision, not a given from birth, driven by the curiosity to live abroad for the first time in my life (aside from a few months while studying), a tempting job offer for my husband and last not least an innate francophilia that has to do with the place I grew up. I come from a small region in Germany that´s not only very close to France, but during its history was even a part of France for a certain period. The local dialect is as sprinkled with French terms (for example we say trottoir for sidewalk/pavement) as the cuisine is a mélange of German with French influences: think guglhupf/kouglof, pancakes/crêpes, boudin noir, Sauerkraut or andouille, to name but a few, cooked with slight alterations on both sides of the border.
As a child, I couldn´t tell the one from the other, and it didn´t matter to me if I ate something originally German or French. I ate it because someone cooked it and I liked it. But as a grown-up and a person living on the edge of the two countries in some way, one starts to analyze. Over time I realized how the more I dive into French cooking, the less I can get enough of it (I rather expected a relapse into serious German cooking at some point), it´s some kind of hunger nourished by a mixture of exitement and comfort. For the more dishes and recipes I discover, the more details or procedures sound familiar: a new sight and a déjà vu often go hand in hand. It´s like I´m holding a double thread, one strand leading to my (culinary) past, and one to my present. It´s like going away to come home. Perhaps that´s what makes me ever so susceptible to the charms of French cooking.
Which brings me to the irresistible tarte Tatin, a simple fruit tart, originally baked with apples, that owes its allure to the caramelized topping and the fact that it´s baked upside down. Every time I make one, I invisibly bow to the Tatin sisters for inventing those genius little twists, turning, as rumor has it, a miscarried apple cake into a glorious success.
During summer, peaches or apricots are, aside from vegetables (like here and here), my preferred objects to be ‘tatinized’. I personally also like to include some herbs like rosemary or thyme, but the rest of the family doesn´t, so I skipped that this time and added a few pistachios instead, a combination I also love in a classic French apricot tart. If you´re a friend of a nice crunch and color, don´t drown the pistachios in the caramel, but roast them separately in a frying pan and sprinkle on the tart just before serving.
Topped with a dollop of crème fraîche, this is one of my favorite desserts ever. And if you don´t have time to make your own pastry, just go for a store bought puff pastry from the supermarket, it works just as well. Bon appétit!
PS for the German readers, an alle, die die deutsche Version suchen: Es gibt sie heute nicht. Und zumindest für eine Weile werde ich nur auf Englisch schreiben, denn leider fehlt mir zum Übersetzen im Moment einfach die Zeit. Das tut mir sehr leid, aber ich hoffe, Ihr schaut trotzdem ab und zu vorbei! xxx
Apricot tarte Tatin with pistachios, for a baking tin 24 cm in diameter:
you will need:
for the topping:
approx. 12-14 apricots, halved, pits removed (1-2 of which cut into smaller chunks)
a handful of chopped pistachios
250 g flour
120 g butter, cubed/room temp.
75 g sugar
1/4 tbsp salt
5 tbsp cold milk
Combine all ingredients to a soft dough. Shape a disk, roll out to a circle slightly larger than your baking dish.
for the caramel:
150 g sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp butter
In a large pan, melt sugar with water over low to medium heat without stirring. Once the sugar has melted and the color turns amber, remove from heat and stir in the butter using a wooden spoon. As always, be extra careful with the burning hot caramel. Pour caramel into your baking tin, line with apricot halves and smaller chunks of apricots to close the gaps.
Cover with the pastry and tuck the edges firmly around the fruit. Prick pastry with a fork. Bake for half an hour in a preheated oven at 180°C/350 °F.
While the tart is in the oven, roast chopped pistachios in a small pan without adding extra fat.
Take tart out of the oven, leave to cool slightly, for 10 minutes approx. Unmould and place onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve warm with crème fraîche.