I like to think of August and September as sisters. August as the elder, with a quiet nostalgia about the end of Summer, September - a little more fickle and flirtatious. This year, they're trying on each other's wardrobes. While August was quite grey and rainy, September has a sprightly bounce in her step and is enjoying the bright yellow, green and red hues of Summer. It's yet to be seen whether she likes this makeover, but personally, I think she suits the duller greys. Perhaps I'm biased - since Autumn is my favourite season.
I think it's the anticipation of Autumn that I like the most, and although as a teenager I thought that being anticipated was a sign of weakness - and even wrote a poem about it, I'm passed that now, and the feeling of anticipation brings together hope and excitement. And Autumn, to me always brings hope and excitement.
Now is the time to be planning for events up and coming. There's Christmas and New Year to think about, and holidays to plan for the next Summer. Usually its a start of a new year for Schools and Universities and it's during this time that I can feel the Earth aging elegantly.
It's also the time that I get to snuggle under doonas freely, without being scorned. Where I can light candles for comfort and have long luxurious baths. And most importantly, it's a time when cooking and baking is at its most enjoyable. With an abundance of produce, vendors are eager to let their overburdened stalls of vegetables and fruits go cheaply, and I'm just as eager to use them in preserves, cakes and stews. I usually have to hold myself back though, because most often than not it's more than our little fridge and kitchen can handle and more than we can consume reasonably without making a glut of ourselves.
So I welcome Autumn with a flourish with this tarte tatin. A dessert I hadn't heard of before coming to England. I turned to one of the best sources of French food and recipes on the web today, Chocolate & Zucchini, and Clotilde didn't disappoint. A recipe handed down generations is one that's certain not to disappoint.
Caramel Apple Tarte Tatin
For the pastry:
170 g flour
85 g sugar
85 g softened butter
a little milk
In a mixing-bowl, cream the sugar and butter with a fork. Add in the flour, and rub the ingredients together to resemble crumbs. Add in a little milk, and knead the dough to form a ball. The dough should be soft and moist and if it's soft and sticky add more flour to compensate. Wrap in plastic and refridgerate until ready to assemble.
For the caramel:
70 g brown sugar
35 g butter, cubed
Put 70 g of brown sugar in a small nonstick saucepan, and put over medium heat until the sugar melts. This may take some time. As soon as it's melted, lower the heat and continue stirring, add in the butter and stir until the butter and sugar have combined. Pour this paste into a non-stick cake pan, and spread it over the bottom. Arrange slices of the apples that have been peeled and cored.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a circle slightly larger than the cake pan. Place the dough over the apples and tuck the edges in around the apples with a bread knife. Prick the dough with a fork in a few places.
Put into the oven to bake for 45 minutes, until the dough turns golden.
Invert the tarte onto a plate and let cool slightly. It's definitely best served warm. Serve with cream or softened icecream.