Upside down cakes….I love ‘em. The first one I ever had was a pineapple upside-down cake. This is recipe a I adapted from a little book I have on Pastry classics by Sebastian Kelly. The Pear Tarte Tatin page has been dog-eared for months and years.
Tips: Don’t be in a hurry to use the puff pastry – if it is still frozen and you try to work with it, it will break so be a tad bit careful.
It is much easier to handle the puff pastry when it is cool. If it gets too warm, it will be difficult to handle (very sticky) and will result in edible but not very nice looking pockets so don’t allow the pastry stay out too long, thawing before you use it. About 5-6 minutes at room temperature should be sufficient for it to have ‘shed’ its frozenness.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade (425 degrees Fahrenheit)
Spread the butter over the base of an 18cm/7 inch ovenproof heavy-based pan or cake tin (preferably not a springform one). And please don’t do as I did and heat the pan first…. you’ll end up with partially melted butter if you do. So, moving swiftly on, sprinkle the sugar over it (Vanilla sugar would go great if making an Apple version) and then add the cardamoms and chopped ginger.
On a floured surface, roll-out the puff pastry. Since I use pastry sheets, I piece them together and then roll the edges to seal. Then I place the pan over the patchwork pastry and cut around the pan, leaving an edge of a couple of centimetres. The I prick it lightly and transfer it to a plate, put it in the refigerator while I go about the rest.
Then arrange the pears, rounded side down on the butter and sugar and set the tin or pan on medium heat till the sugar melts and begins to bubble. If other areas are browning more than others, move the pan around but do not stir otherwise the mixture WILL NOT caramelise because the sugar will form lumps before it has a chance to melt and liquefy!
As soon as the sugar-butter mix has caramelised, remove the tin or pan carefully from the heat. Don’t worry about the pears turning brown on the outside…they’ll end up even browner so
Place the pastry on top and tuck the edges down the side of the pan.
Transfer to the (hot) oven…
Bake for 25 minutes or until well risen and golden. Take it out of the oven with the greatest care…this is one dessert you DON’T want to lose, not to mention the heat from the pan handles or the sides of the tin or the oven tray – which ever one makes it out, alive.Leave the tart in the tin/pan for 2-3 minutes until the juices have stopped bubbling – you might be able to hear it.
Then with utmost care, again, place a plate over the top of the pan and carefully invert the tin. You may have to loosen the pears if they don’t want to leave their warm home. Should there be need, carefully slide a spatula under and give a gentle nudge – you don’t want poked pears do you?
Slice, aiming to keep a whole half pear in a wedge…looks nicer. Serve warm with creme fraiche and a cuppa. Bliss.