PUMPKIN TART TATIN
With halloween just around the corner and I can’t help but think about pumpkins! I’ve just got them on the brain! One of the ultimate symbols of the Autumn season, but they’re not just for carving to spook little trick or treaters!
There are so many options when it comes to pumpkin, as a cook you are positively spoilt for choice!
Whether it’s roasted, fried, pureed, baked or mashed, pumpkin can pretty much turn it’s hand to anything. Pairing well with almost any flavour, pumpkin does not have to be seen as a vegetable that is only good for a decoration. The only problem with pumpkin is trying to decide what to make with it!
Pumpkin is a fantastic ingredient all on it’s own and sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to go! My Pumpkin Tatin is “Pure Pumpkin Plus Pastry”! Layers of crispy rough puff pastry topped with sweet, spicy caramelised pumpkin. Taking a classic technique and a fantastic ingredient to make something that sets every sense ablaze! With a bit of tangy goats cheese, to cut through the sweetness, and a hazelnut butter dressing to compliment it’s earthiness! This Pumpkin Tatin is basically Autumn on a crispy pastry base!
— Al Brady
100g goats cheese, valencay, kidderton ash
100g mix salad leaves
For the dressing;
2tbsp hazelnut oil
35g hazelnuts, toasted & chopped
40ml sherry vinegar
salt & pepper
For the tatins;
1/2 small pumpkin (approx. 400g)
50g light brown sugar
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
1/4tsp ground cloves
1/4tsp smoked paprika
2 large sprigs of thyme leaves picked
1 qty rough puff pastry
For the tatins:
Peel and slice the pumpkin into slices 0.5cm thick, making sure to cut four 3cm circles of pumpkin as well, put to one side until needed.
Place the butter and the light brown sugar into a bowl and using an electric hand whisk cream the two together until light and fluffy. Add the spices to the butter and sugar and whisk together thoroughly. Divide the butter and sugar mixture between 4 individual tartlet tins. Sprinkle the butter mixture with the fresh thyme leaves and sea salt.
Place the pumpkin circles in the centre of the butter mixture, fanning the other slices over the top to cover the butter and fill the tartlet tin. Repeat with the remaining pumpkin circles and slices to fill the remaining tartlet cases.
Roll the rough puff pastry to 5mm thick and carefully cut out discs to fit exactly into the tins. Using a fork, prick the discs of pastry all over to allow steam to escape and the pastry to crisp. Place the pastry on top of the sliced pumpkins and using a spoon tuck the pastry around the pumpkin nice and tight. Refrigerate the tatins for 20 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Bake the pumpkin tatins for approximately 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the caramel is golden and bubbling around the edges.
Once cooked remove from the oven and leave the tatins to cool in the tin for 1 minute until the caramel stops bubbling. Turn the pumpkin tatins out onto a plate or tray and carefully remove the tartlet tins and keep warm. If the tatins don’t come out of the tins easily or seem stuck chances are the caramel has set solid, put them back into the oven for a minute to soften the caramel and try to turn out again.
For the brown butter hazelnut dressing:
Place the butter in the pan and put over a medium heat, and cook the butter, stirring constantly until foaming and a light golden brown colour. (The butter is heated up until the milk solids in the butter begin to colour giving the butter a golden brown colour and nutty flavour. This is called beurre noisette.)
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Once cool stir in the chopped toasted hazelnuts, hazelnut oil and the sherry vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sherry vinegar if necessary to suit your taste. Keep warm and use a soon as possible.
Now all that is left to do is serve the warm pumpkin tatins with a few thin slices of goats' cheese, garnish with the salad leaves and a drizzle of the brown butter hazelnut dressing.
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When buying pumpkins make sure to avoid buying the large carving pumpkins for anything cooking related! They may look large and pleasing but the flesh inside tends to be watery, stringy, and weak flavoured. Usually breaking down to a flavourless wet mush at the end of cooking!
Our favourites pumpkins to use are Cinderella (Rouge vif D’Etampes) and Fairytale (Musque De Provence), which have thick, hard skins but delicious flesh underneath. Lumina is also a bit of a favourite as it has a bright white skin hiding an amazing orange flesh inside.
If you don’t see these particular varieties then most supermarkets often stock some sort of organic pumpkin that will be far superior to the giant carving ones as the flesh is often firmer, sweeter and better suited for a variety of cooking methods.
If the worst should happen and only the big carving pumpkins are available, choose a winter squash, like butternut squash, instead as a suitable alternative.