Regular readers (all one of you) will know that we have an increasing interest in the making of our own pastry and the use of different flours. This week we have been experimenting with chestnut flour and almond flour in a tarte tatin bake off.
So which is the better?
Recipe 1 Chestnut flour pastry
100g chestnut flour
70g cold butter- diced
15g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 table spoons of cold water or more if necessary.
This is not the easiest flour to work with. It’s a very dry rustic smelling flour which has a gritty sensibility to it. As Niki Segnit says in her book “The Flavour Thesaurus” (an excellent book about how flavours work together – I don’t agree with every single one but it’s a well written tome nonetheless) “chestnut flour has a curious aroma, somewhere between cocoa and silage, which makes for a rustic flavour experience. I mean really rustic: it tastes like the floor of a shepherds refuge.” One can assume it’s not a favourite in the Segnit household then. That said; it is rustic and coarse and has a low fat content, but that is also its appeal. It is quite difficult to work with initially and needs to be coaxed a bit to get what you require- a nice flat pastry for the tarte tatin top.
Recipe 2 Almond flour pastry
150g Almond flour
10g cold butter
15g icing sugar
A very different flour – crumblier, less gritty, and much more oil content. I don’t always use butter but sometimes I add it for a little bit of luxury, because frankly living with Fanny’s long face is almost too much to bear. It is also much more moist which means that it binds more easily. Rolled out on a floured surface it is a sticky flour and will need some care as you lift it on to the apples. This feels like a luxuriant pastry and indeed it tastes like it – even before being cooked!
To prepare the pastry:
Put the flour and butter into a mixing bowl and rub the flour and butter together till you get a crumbly texture. Once you have, add the icing sugar and bring it together in a ball. The chestnut flour will require the eggs and some water to help it bind.
Now leave it in the fridge to harden up.
Ingredients for the caramel mixture
100g demerara sugar
Tart filling ingredients
1 kg Cox Orange Pippins (or similar eating apples)
Zest and juice from one lemon.
Get yourself a flan pan for the tarte tatin.
First peel your apples, core them and slice them quite thinly.
Place the butter and sugar in a pan and on a low heat melt the sugar and butter and stir. You will need to cook it for about five minutes, stirring. When it starts to darken take it off the heat and pour it into the flan dish.
Then arrange your apples on top of the caramel
Turn on oven and preheat to 180°C
Now take the pastry out of the fridge, flour your board and grab your rolling pin.
Roll out your ball carefully. Whichever flour you have used will take some care to roll out as neither of these binds with the flexibility of a normal processed plain flour. When it comes to lifting the pastry on to the apples, beware that the almond pastry could be quite sticky and may need to be helped off the floured board. If you are using the chestnut pastry, you may find it is more crumbly – do not worry this is standard.
Place the pastry onto the apples and tuck it in at the sides.
Place the flan pan the oven on a flat baking tray for 30 minutes till brown.
When it is cooked you will need to turn it out of the flan base pretty quickly – and before the caramel sets. Place a plate or a board over the pan and turn upside down. Let gravity do its work.
Serve with a large bowl of chantilly cream.
Both of these tartes have distinctive qualities. The chestnut would be a lovely wintry recipe with its robust earthy tones. The almond pastry is much more luxuriant and presents a quite different flavour, and the almond one won the vote here. The choice is yours!