Upside Down Frustration

I baked! Again. That’s how many now? Six? Yup, just went and checked – I have made 6 out of the 100 bakes on that list. I guess it is fairly obvious I am not going to complete this challenge in a year. Did I ever believe I would? Maybe for a very short period of time. From when I wrote my first post about it until I actually baked again. Since then it has been pretty clear I don’t bake anywhere near enough to delude myself to think I could do this.

This does not mean I won’t be continuing with my challenge – perhaps just without the time limit. Like one of those ‘100 Books To Read Before You Die’ things. Wow that’s morbid. Is that what they’re actually called? Anyway – to my bake.

Monday, 11th of April – Mango Tarte Tatin

It started off well enough – I got a bunch of free mangoes from Olio (it’s an app for sharing free food & household items, etc – check it out if you have it in your area, it’s great!) and I needed to bake something, so I decided to try and make a tarte tatin.

I managed to peel and slice them ok enough (I’ve always struggled with actual mango fruits because of the huge centre pip thing they have, so prefer to work with canned mangoes, but after doing five in a row I got pretty good at it!) and managed to microwave my puff pastry to a pliable state without baking it (I’d forgotten to take it out of the freezer beforehand) and it was all looking alright.

Then I needed to make the caramel. Have you ever made caramel on a cast iron pan? If you have, I would love some tips! Firstly – how the heck are you supposed to see when it’s reached the right colour? I went off the smell – when I got a gentle whiff of a slightly burning sugar I chickened out and took it off the heat (in hindsight it was probably too early, but I wasn’t about to let the whole thing burn!).

Adding the mangoes was slightly tricky because I hadn’t thought about the fact that they should look somewhat presentable in their little circle and they were all different shapes and sizes – fine, they don’t have to look perfect, but I managed to get them in a shape that somewhat resembled a circle, so I plonked on the chunks of butter and covered the whole thing with puff pastry that I pushed down the edges with a wooden spoon. What are you supposed to do with the excess pastry by the way? I just sort of tucked it all in (more than what you can see on the picture).

Then I lifted the pan into the oven. Made a bit of a mistake there – I’m used to putting stuff on the middle shelf because my fan oven will then cook everything evenly. But this tarte didn’t need baking evenly. It needed more heat on the bottom to make sure everything caramelised nicely. So what I should’ve done was perhaps put the oven on bottom heating mode thing and let that do its job.

Anyway, after a long while I took it out and the top (or, well, the about-to-be-the-bottom) was nice and golden brown so I thought it was ready. I didn’t have a plate large enough, so I grabbed another oven dish and turned it upside down into that. Turned out I thought wrong – the pastry was ready but because of my aforementioned mistake, the bottom looked extremely anaemic. Luckily as I had tipped it into an oven dish, I could put it back in the oven – I put it under the grill for 5-10 minutes and it looked much more appetising. Way more appetising than the picture makes it look, by the way! It was actually really delicious and perfectly caramelly and we had it with custard which balanced it beautifully and my mother-in-law had hers with clotted cream which she said worked gorgeously as well.

So there you go. My first ever Mango Tarte Tatin. Probably also my last. I don’t think I would make it with mangoes again, purely because I struggled to get nice even chunks and I’d like for it to look a bit more uniform in appearance. Also, it was really frustrating not knowing what was going on under the pastry and not having any way to check. I had to trust the recipe I was using and I didn’t have much faith in it. Maybe now that I have more experience with it, I would find the whole process a bit easier next time.

In any case I highly doubt I will make it again until I have finished my 100 bakes so it will likely be a long while anyway before I even think about making it again.

Also, as a side note – I was really bummed when I couldn’t get a nice picture of my tarte and compared it with all the other tartes I’ve seen online, but a short while I ago I realised that it was literally my first ever tarte tatin and most likely all the other ones you see accompanying the recipes, etc, are the result of many tries to get it look pretty and photogenic. When I realised that, I felt a whole lot better.


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