Pear & Star Anise Tarte Tatin
by eat in my kitchen
Ten years ago, on Bonfire Night, I moved to England. I lived in a tiny harbour village called Whitby in the far, far North close to the old city of York. To reach this secluded and picturesque place, you have to drive through the silent moors of North Yorkshire. At one point you will see the river Esk with its pretty swing bridge, and if you follow the water, passing the wooden piers, you’ll end up right in front of the dark, rough waves of the North Sea. If you take a left, you can walk down the endless beach under the cliffs for hours until you reach Sandsend. If you take a right, you’ll get to the Gothic ruins of the Whitby Abbey from the 13th century, high above the East Cliff overlooking the sea. This mystical place inspired Bram Stoker to write his novel Dracula; here , Captain Cook also learned seamanship and this is where I fell in love with England. So it’s a very special place for me, with precious people and memories, and – of course – amazing food experiences. Especially Botham’s, the local bakery, stole my heart and awoke my love for British pastries. Every year in November, I feel a strong pull to go there again, or at least to England. This year, the feeling was particularly strong, but my work on the German translation of my book doesn’t really allow me to travel for long. I needed an excuse. I thought it would be a very nice idea to prepare a few new meet in your kitchen features for the Christmas season, and why not in England? I booked the flights, and although I’ll only be in London for 3 days, I managed to set up 4 kitchen sessions with wonderful people whose work I deeply admire and I can’t wait to turn the oven on together with them.
I still have to wait another 2 weeks and until then, I’ll keep it warm and cozy in my own kitchen. Autumn’s pears meat Christmassy star anise to melt in a golden brown pan of caramelized fruits and spice covered in crisp short crust pastry. Baked in the oven and flipped around, this becomes a Tarte Tatin. It works for a late breakfast, it’s pleasant at teatime and I love to enjoy the last bites at our traditional Sunday pizza night. The recipe is based on my mother’s tart, only the apples gave way for more wintery aromas.
Pear & Star Anise Tarte Tatin
For this tart you will need a 21cm / 8″ ovenproof Tarte Tatine dish or frying pan.
butter 90g / 3 ounces
granulated sugar 90g / scant 1/2 cup
star anise 2 pieces
large, crisp pears, peeled, cored and quartered, 3
For the shortcrust
plain flour 130g / 1 cup
sugar 1 tablespoon
a pinch of salt
butter, cold, 75g / 3 ounces
egg yolk 1
cold water 1 1/2 tablespoons
For the shortcrust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are only small pieces left. Continue with your fingers and quickly rub the butter into the flour. Add the egg yolk and water, continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form a thick disc, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F.
In a pan or a Tarte Tatin dish, melt the butter and sugar, add the pears and star anise and cook on high heat for about 12 minutes. Turn the fruits a few times and watch them well, they should be golden brown and caramelized. Take the pan off the heat when the pears are done.
Roll out the dough between cling film, big enough to cover the pan. Lay the flat pastry on top of the pears tucking the edges down the sides. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. When the tart is done and the caramel is still liquid, place a large, heat resistant plate on top and flip the pan around carefully. Enjoy warm or cold, pure or with whipped cream.