Oh là là ! Don’t you just love a good tarte tatin. The famous tarte tatin is definitely and indisputably one of France’s most beloved and cherished tarts. There are two things I always eat when visiting France: crêpes with sugar and lemon and tarte tatin. Especially the latter as it’s both one of my favourite desserts (with apples) and one of my favourite side dishes (with shallots).
We were in France 2 weeks ago where we spent a week in ‘Le Château de Varambon’. My husband booked the accommodation and I had no idea what it was until we pulled up onto a grand driveway to the château. It’s built on top of a hill at the edge of a small town called Varambon so the view from the château was spectacular. We were greeted very warmly by the count Henri de Boissieu and the countess Monique Gabrielle de Boissieu. They gave us a double room in the lefttower on the top floor. I could not believe my eyes as we walked through the château on our way to our bedrooms. It was like I was walking through a museum, but this time I was allowed to touch everything, to sit in every chair and even sleep in the beds. Henri and Monique Gabrielle told us that they had opened the château to the public in the summer of 2017. It was built by the ancestors of Henri and maintained its original charm over many generations. The bedrooms were incredible; they looked like we were transported in time to the era were Napoleon was still ruling over France. Don’t worry, the toilets and bathrooms were up to the standards of the 20th century 🙂 .
On the fifth day we were there, Henri and Monique Gabrielle invited us for dinner. We started in the library with drinks and hors d’oeuvres and Henri was telling us about the château and how his family had built it and lived there. I loved how he was telling us stories like we were old friends. It’s a rare thing meeting such kind and genuine people. After the drinks we moved to the dining room where Monique Gabrielle herself had cooked us a fabulous dinner. These people were absolutely wonderful, very welcoming and nothing was too much trouble when asked. We had a great time in the château and in France. We had never been to that region and we were pleasantly surprised by the people, the nature, well basically everything there. The only negative thing I can think of during that holiday was the fact that this was my first time I did not eat a tarte tatin during my stay in France 😉 . I’m sure if I had asked Monique Gabrielle to make me one she would have, but she had already been so nice to us that I just couldn’t.
To satisfy my tarte tatin craving I started thinking about making one when I got home. While driving home I dreamed about a savoury version with shallots, a sprinkling of fresh thyme and salty feta to brighten everything up. Just thinking of it made my frown turn upside down, just like the tarte tatin. So that’s how I came to make and now share below recipe.
It’s a very simple recipe, but guests will think you spent hours on this gorgeous tarte tatin. I won’t tell if you don’t! You can make it even easier by using shop bought puff pastry if you want. I served it with a rack of lamb with a coriander and honey marinade.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!
I submitted this recipe to the May Foodblog Event of the Facebookgroup ‘Foodbloggers Benelux’. Check all the recipes for the event on the Pinterest Board of the group.
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- 160 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm dice
- ½ tsp salt
- 70 g ice-cold water
- 400 g shallots
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 10 g butter
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 16 thyme sprigs
- 100 g feta cheese
Make the pastry by sifting together the flour and salt into a large bowl. Take the butter from the fridge and cut it into small cubes. Add to the flour mix. Using your fingertips and thumbs, rub the butter into the flour until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the ice-cold water and stir into the pastry mix with a fork until it starts to resemble a soft dough. Tip on to a clean surface and bring the pastry together with your hands until you have a smooth ball. Wrap this in cling film and chill it in a fridge for at least 1 hour (I usually do this the night before).
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan.
Peel the shallots and slice them in half lengthwise. Heat the butter in a frying pan large enough to fit the shallots in an even layer. Add the shallots and cook over a medium/low heat until they start to brown and are cooked through (about 10 mintues). Add the balsamic and sugar and keep cooking, adding some water if you need to until the balsamic and sugar has become sticky and caramelised around them (about 1 or 2 minutes). Take off the heat, mix in leaves from 8 thyme sprigs and season.
Cover the base of a 24cm ovenproof shallow pan, cake or tart tin without a loose base with baking paper (cut out a round shape). Tip in the shallots with all their sticky juices and turn them cutside down. Tear 4 thyme sprigs into pieces and scatter over the shallots. Crumble the feta over the shallots, leaving a little bit to decorate when it comes out of the oven.
Dust a clean surface with flour and place the pastry from the fridge on to it. Roll out the chilled pastry until it’s big enough to cover a pan of 24cm. Be sure to add extra flour to the surface if it sticks. This pastry is incredibly forgiving and any cracks or tears can be easily repaired by using a piece of dough you tear of a spot where you don’t need it to fix the gap. Lift the pastry circle onto the shallots, then tuck the edges down the inside of the pan. Bake for 25-30 mins until pastry is golden.
Leave tart for 5 mins to settle, then turn out of the tin. Sprinkle with the leftover feta and the 4 remaining sprigs of thyme and slice into wedges. Enjoy immediately.