Gordon adds a touch of spice to the ultimate French classic to create the definitive autumn pudding
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Use a ripe, yet firm, pear that holds its shape. My favourite pear for this dish is Comice as it’s naturally firm-fleshed even when ripe, and has a nice, round-bottomed shape. In my restaurants we peel the pears and leave them, uncovered, in the fridge for a day. This helps them dry out, so they won’t release too much juice and dilute the caramel when you cook them. Don’t worry about them going brown as this actually adds to the finished dish.
To make this into an apple Tatin, simply swap the pears for apples. Tatins can also be made with plums, nectarines or peaches, but won’t work with fruits like strawberries or raspberries as their flesh is too soft.
We pour away the excess juices from the pan halfway through baking to stop the pastry becoming soggy when you turn the tart out. This isn’t essential but, if you do decide to do so, be very careful to avoid burning yourself with the hot pan or the molten sauce. We also serve baby tartes in my restaurants, cooking them to order in small copper pans.
Fitting the pastry
Make sure you tuck the pastry down the sides of the pan, using a spoon or knife to lift the pears and tuck the pastry under. This will ensure the pastry 'hugs' the fruit as it cooks, keeping the tart nice and compact.