Toffeed baby apple tart with ginger 

This is an upside down tart, in the grand tradition of the tarte tatin. (See Le site official de la Tarte Tatin with pictures of the sisters Tatin and the tarte's history.) 

Variations of the apple, butter and sugar ingredients in a pastry cover fill whole cookbooks and web sites. This one came from Vogue Entertaining magazine and is © Alistair Hendry 2001 but it appears in a number of online recipes as well. My only quibble with the Vogue one is how it doesn't give you much help if you're not a dab hand at making toffee or tarte tatin. 

Here's our experience.

  serves four adults of which two ask for second helpings.

650 g of baby apples (cultivated crabapples are suggested, but I'm assuming that's a 'what to ask for in the market' direction.) We used the smallest of the apples from our tree that would otherwise be tossed out because they're too small to peel and core. This long cooking time makes them soft and you just scrape out the core when you eat them.

1 sheet of prepared butter puff or sweet shortcrust pastry about 3mm thick. (it worked well with a sheet of frozen shortcrust pastry. a slightly thicker piece of puff might be better)

500g of caster sugar

5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (coarsely is ok as this is strained out later)

100g of butter

1/2 teaspoon of allspice.

 Peel the apples and place them in water with a squeeze of lemon to keep them from going brown. Pick your tart dish and cut a round from the pastry with enough over hang (3cm) to tuck down the sides. Remember this is an upside down tarte.

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Make your toffee. Put the sugar, ginger and 1 tablespoon of water into a small saucepan and melt over a gentle heat until golden coloured. Add the butter. It will immediately gosolid and you'll take a lot of coaxing to get it to melt again but don't fret it. It goes into the oven and will melt there.

Drain the apples and pack the stems facing upward in a deep ovenproof dish and pour the toffee caramel mixture over it. Cover loosely with a piece of aluminium foil to stop the tops browning and bake for about 20 minutes until the apples are tender and still just a bit firm. Take them out and turn up the heat by about 10 degrees C.

Place the apples upside down in your heavy tarte dish or oven proof frying pan. It's more important to get the depth right. You're covering this with the pastry so it should just sit level with the top. This doesn't matter with the cooking that much but it's pretty difficult to upturn a dish of hot melted toffee and small apples unless you can place a plate bigger than the dish over it. (I've just about got the toffee of my sneakers but the ants still like them when I leave them sit for a few days.)

Arrange the apples upside down and as many as will fit in the dish, sprinkle with the allspice. Strain out the ginger bits from the liquid and pour it over the apples. Lay the pastry over the top and press it down the side to make a lid. Don't seal off all the air gaps. 

Bake until the pastry is golden on the top (it will still be soaked in sugar and soft around the edges. Now do the upside down trick. Cover with a plate and being careful not to burn yourself, invert it all. Viola, zee top iz now a crunchy cooked bottom, zee sides are all soft and gooey. It stays warm but eat it quickly to enjoy all that trapped flavour. Serve with thick cream, crème fraîche or anything else really (ice cream?). It didn't last enough to test how it would be if served cold. But remember that it's a spoon and fork exercise to scrape out the core and pips.

Sources/ Inspiration. Vogue Entertaining + Travel Autumn 2002,