Hard core

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 49, Winter 2016

Page 49

Hard core

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 49, Winter 2016

Page 49

Tom Kemble, head chef at the Michelin-starred Bonhams Restaurant, reinvents tarte Tatin, the famous apple dessert

Many much-loved foods and sauces have been created by accident – crisps, Worcester sauce, Eton Mess, crêpes Suzette – but none have a more colorful story behind their creation than tarte Tatin. This luscious caramelized apple tart is now a benchmark for any French or French-inspired restaurant, but it originated only in the late 19th century.

The dessert is the creation of two sisters who ran an establishment, called L'Hôtel Tatin, in the small town of Lamotte-Beuvron in the Loire. The story goes that Stéphanie, the elder sister, accidentally placed an apple tart in the oven the wrong way up and found that it tasted better than the original.

What really made it famous though, was when Maxim's of Paris purloined the recipe and put it on the menu in the 1930s under the name 'Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin'.

Inevitably, there is an ongoing dispute as to whether or not tarte Tatin already existed in the region decades earlier, but why spoil a good story?

My version of this autumnal dessert is a play on the classic tarte Tatin. The difference is that this recipe treats the apple like a potato in a dauphinoise, thinly slicing it to create a multi-layered stack of caramelized apples. The caramel is made beforehand and baked with the apples in a tray. Traditionally the tarte Tatin is served warm, so that the ice-cream or crème fraîche would melt into it. It's a great dessert, and although it takes some time to prepare, it can be kept for a few days in the fridge and it only improves the flavor.

I first came across this variation when I worked at Foliage, the restaurant previously situated at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London. I was there for two years under the head chef Chris Staines and I have fond memories of the team. This was where I learned the foundations of pastry. We would be the first chefs in and the last ones out, and there was a lot of preparation to do every day, including for the apple dauphinoise.

The smell of caramelized apple when it comes out, fresh from the oven, always takes me straight back to my time at the restaurant.

Tom Kemble is Head Chef at Bonhams Restaurant, 7 Haunch of Venison Yard, London, W1

An apple a day: Tarte Tatin

Tatin caramel

30g glucose
300g sugar
130g butter (diced and cold)

1. Put the sugar and glucose in a saucepan and, over a moderate heat, melt them together, stirring as little as possible, until they are a deep golden brown color.
2. Remove from the stove and whisk in the butter, piece by piece, to avoid splitting.
3. Once emulsified, pour the caramel quickly over a tray lined with greaseproof paper.
4. Allow to cool, then break the caramel up
into small pieces and blitz them in a food processor to make a powder.

Apple dauphinoise

12 Cox apples
Tatin caramel (see above)

1. Core and peel the apples and, using a mandolin, slice them thinly.
2. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
3. Arrange the apple slices in the baking tray, layer by layer, sprinkling caramel mix between each layer.
4. Bake at 180°C for around 45 minutes until the dauphinoise is caramelized and the apples are cooked through.

Crème diplomat

500ml whole milk
1½ vanilla pods
100g egg yolks
75g sugar
50g cornflour
1l whipping cream

1. Pour the milk into a saucepan.
2. Using a small sharp knife, cut the vanilla pods lengthwise and scrape the seeds out. Add them to the milk along with their pods.
3. Gently heat the milk to a simmer, before removing it from the heat and letting it infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the pods.
4. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy. This can be done by hand, but an electric whisk is helpful.
5. Whisk the cornflour into the egg mix, before slowly whisking in the infused milk.
6. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and gently heat it, stirring regularly.
7. Once thickened, continue to cook the mixture for 5 minutes, gently whisking every so often to prevent it catching on the bottom of the saucepan.
8. Pour the mixture onto a metal tray sat on ice and cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Place in the refrigerator to set.
9. Whip the cream until it forms peaks.
10. Once the custard is set, break down the mixture with a blender or whisk, before gently folding in the whipped cream.
11. Store the crème diplomat in piping bags until it is needed.


Arlettes are made by covering a sheet of good-quality ready-made puff pastry with icing sugar and rolling it into a cylinder. They can be flavored with cinnamon and provide a great crunch to the dessert.

1 sheet of puff pastry
Icing sugar to dust

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Sieve a layer of icing sugar over a sheet of puff pastry, and then roll it up from the short end, like a Swiss roll.
3. Wrap in greaseproof paper. Chill for 1 hour.
4. Cut the pastry into thin disks and dust again with icing sugar (be generous).
5. Sprinkle your work surface with sugar to prevent sticking, and roll the disks out very thinly. Return them to the fridge for 1 hour.
6. Using a cutter, cut the biscuits into neater rounds and arrange them on a lined baking tray. Put another piece of non-stick baking parchment on top, followed by a second tray.
7. Bake until golden brown. This should take around 10 minutes.

Moscatel caramel sauce

75g caster sugar
25g butter
125g whipping cream
1¼ teaspoons Moscatel vinegar

1. Caramelize the sugar to a golden brown color and then add the butter.
2. Slowly add the cream. Bring briefly to the boil.
3. Leave to cool down and stir in the vinegar.
4. Warm the sauce in a pan when needed.

To finish

Using a cutter, cut the dauphinoise into circles and place on a tray with parchment. Warm through in an oven before putting the circles on a plate. Pipe the crème diplomat in between two arlettes and place on top of the apple. Drizzle some warm caramel sauce around the plate and serve.

The restaurant is open for lunch from
12 noon - 2.30pm, Mon - Fri;
and for dinner from 7pm, Wed - Fri.

Reservations: +44 (0) 20 7468 5868

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