Now that autumn is upon us, it is the return of my favourite seasonal fruit: quinces! I shall celebrate this happy day by sharing with you my paleo recipe for the french classic tarte Tatin, inspired by the Philippe Conticini method. This means having to do more work, but also obtaining an amazing taste! He uses a fancy 300 euro circular knife of some sort to cut his apples in long mega-thin strips…I don’t have such a fancy tool, but I recently bought in Seoul a really nice mandolin (cheap, like 25 euros) and it does the job wonderfully. Now, could you make this cake without a mandolin? Cutting super thin strips of hard quince with a knife is not going to be possible, but it would work with apples. However, when I have done that in the past, the strips are always a little thicker and they usually get less moist, but the taste is still great. This being said, let’s get to work!
2 big quinces (about 1kg all in all) or 5-6 apples the golden variety (for a sweeter cake) or boskoop (for a more acid, more interesting flavour)
50 gr coconut sugar or muscovado sugar or 75ml maple syrup
For the sauce:
120gr maple syrup if you are doing this recipe with quinces or 80gr if you are using apples or pears; in a pinch, you can also replace the maple syrup with honey, but it will loose some of its healthy properties in the oven
the juice of half a lemon
25gr butter or 20gr coconut butter
one vanilla pod
extra: you can add a pinch of spices like cinnamon, ginger or ground cloves
For the base:
120gr almond powder
40gr muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
50gr butter or 35gr coconut butter
a pinch of sodium bicarbonate
a teaspoon of cider vinegar
In a saucepan over medium heat, add the 50gr of sugar and let it caramelise without stirring. When the sugar is all melted, carefully pour it in your cake mould and spread it all over the base using a silicone spatule. Be quick, it will harden very fast! Today I’m using a rectangular mould of 10 x 26cm. If you want to make your cake in a round pan, you might need three quinces all in all. However, my boyfriend pointed out he’d prefer this cake with less, rather than more fruits, but I think it is really a matter of personal taste.
Using a mandolin, finely slice your quinces and immediately add them into a bowl of cold water with a bit of lemon juice in it. This will stop the fruits from browning. Preheat your oven to 170°C.
In another saucepan add the maple syrup, the lemon juice, the butter and the scrapped insides of the vanilla pod. Stir from time to time and remove from the stove just before it all starts boiling. In your cake pan, stack all your fruit slices and fill it tightly almost to the top. Then pour on top the sauce and pop it in the oven for 45 minutes. Once its ready, take it out of the oven and let it cool for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients of the cake base and spread it over your cooked fruits. Put it back into the oven (170°C) for another 25 minutes. Take it out of the oven for one last time, let it cool off completely, cover it with cling film and pop it in the fridge for at least 6 hours or even better, over night. Yes, this is the hard part, to have so much patience before tasting this beauty, but it ensures there will be no disaster when flipping the cake.
After having waited the prescribed amount of time, take the cake out of the fridge and pop it in the oven for only 5 minutes at 170°C. Then, using a blunt knife, try to get the edges unstuck from the pan. Flip the cake onto your serving platter. You hay have to jiggle it a bit for all the layers of fruit to detach from the mold. Be gentle, but firm. Or firm, but gentle…anyway follow your instincts and it will be great! You can serve it with some coconut whipped cream (or the normal kind if you are a sinner like me), some vanilla curd etc…Goes great with your 5 o’clock tea! I know in the pictures the base seems thick and dense, but in reality it is very light and full of syrup and wonderful…so if you have any doubts about it, just trust me on this one;)!
Timing advice! For amazing results, if I would have to serve the cake on Saturday night, I’d make the recipe on Friday night and keep it in the fridge until Saturday morning. Then I would flip it on my serving platter, cut off the ends (and eat them!!!) and then pop it back into the fridge until serving time, thus allowing the base to become all juicy and delicious.