In a local cookwear shop I found two sizes of something called a skillet but which actually looked like an ordinary frying pan. It said in the instructions that it was oven-proof to 200°C. Somehow I didn't fancy putting something with a long plastic-coated handle in the oven, regardless of what it said on the box.
Then, our old reliable friend, John Lewis came to the rescue. Nick found this tarte tatin dish for £12. It was like a slightly deeper than normal cake tin with a large lip to get hold of and it was quite heavy. It looked just perfect for the job. Obviously.
I found a recipe in one of my favourite cookbooks, "The French Kitchen" by Joanne Harris.
The method in this recipe was to melt the butter and sugar in the pan (tatin dish) before the fruit is added.
Just like the previous attempt, after the suggested 15 minutes cooking time it didn't seem to have caramelised much so I gave it another 15 minutes.
Then I put the pastry on top. The recipe said to "tuck the edges in". I wasn't sure what that meant so it looked like this. BUT I forgot that a thick heavy pan keeps its heat much longer than a thin cake tin and managed to get a burn on my finger when doing the tucking in. I shall remember next time.
The frustrating thing about cooking a tatin is that you can only see how the bottom is cooking because the bottom is on the top. You have no idea what the top looks like by peering through the oven door because it is underneath. If you see what I mean.
I cooked it for the suggested 40 minutes, which seemed like an awfully long time for what is essentially fruit tart and where there is no way of telling whether it is done or burnt or what.
I was very pleased with it. Except that the apples shrunk quite a bit so I might use different apples, or more apples, or just bigger chunks next time. The recipe used eating apples but I might see what happens if I use our old favourite, the Bramley.
I was also rather chuffed with the glass cake plate. £2 from a local charity shop and just the right size !
As usual, I made some mince pies for my Dad from the pastry trimmings. The mincemeat was home-made too, although not by me.