Twist the classic apple tarte tatin and bring it to the next level, using pears and a touch of saffron. A sweet and sophisticated dessert to enjoy with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
We start 2018 with saffron, because we still are in a festive mood and we deserve the very best for this new year! As you know, saffron is a very expensive spice, probably the most expensive one, that we use on rare occasions in our cooking. We also use it in very little quantities (usually up to 1 gram) as it’s a very aromatic spice. Mostly used in savory dishes in Indian cuisine, it’s less common to find it in sweet recipes. In Sweden, however, we use it in baking and that’s actually how I got introduced to this very precious spice.
Today again, we use saffron for a dessert recipe: a tarte tatin. You all know the classic apple tarte tatin, this French signature dessert consisting in an upside-down pastry in which apples are caramelized in butter and sugar before the tarte is baked. This time, we add a little twist to the original recipe: first we replace apples with pears, and then we add a touch of saffron that brings a beautiful orange hue to the pears.
A few saffron dessert recipes you might want to try:
- Swedish Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”
- Lactose Free Saffron Cheesecake
- Swedish Saffron Braided Bread with Vanilla Cream
- Mini Moist Orange and Saffron Cakes
Originally discovered a couple of years ago on the lifestyle blog Et pourquoi pas Coline, this saffron pear tatin has become a favorite of mine, especially in fall-winter when pears are in season. I baked it many times and can now guide you to bake it with confidence. A tarte tatin often looks fancy and advanced, but it’s not that difficult after all. And whether you go for the classic apple one or this one with pears and saffron, it’s pretty much the same.
The main difference with Coline’s version is that I prepared the crust from scratch – an old and good habit I developed when I lived in Sweden. I remember my math teacher in high school (I never thought I would blog about him one day, ha!) explaining us how easy it was to make your own pastry crust from scratch, for an unbeatable result. That might be the thing I remember the most about this math class – when I think about it today, there is no surprise I ended up working with food! But most importantly here: he was right. Whether it is sweet or savory, a pie always tastes much, much better when it is homemade.
Note here that a tarte tatin can be made with either a shortcrust or a puff pastry. At this point, it’s important to mention that my comment above was about a shortbread crust, that is really simple to prepare. A puff pastry is much more technical and I would not advise you to bake it yourself if you are a beginner in baking, unless you really enjoy it and have some time ahead. When it comes to the result, it’s a matter of taste. I personally prefer the shortbread crust that I find a little more rustic in taste and texture. In general, puff pastries are more crispy and they tend to emphasize the sweet taste of the dessert. Then again, it’s really up to you to go for either one or the other.
You will also notice that the saffron pear tatin is not too sweetened compared to the apple version. This is partly due to the saffron itself. So if you are not too much of a sweet tooth and usually prefer fruit desserts over chocolate or caramel ones for this precise reason, you might find yourself enjoying this recipe a lot. Epiphany is right around the corner and it could actually be a great alternative to the traditional galette des rois or braided almond cream wreath.
- 2½ cups (300g) all-purpose flour
- 1 stick (125g) unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1-2 tsp water
- 3-4 pears
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- ¼ cup (approx. 50 g) unsalted butter
- 1g saffron
- 1 handful pistachios, crushed
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C), and line a 10-inch (25-26 cm) springform with detachable bottom with parchment paper. Cover the outside part of the springform with foil.
- For the pie crust: dice the butter and mix quickly with the flour. Add the egg, and stir with a wooden spatula. Add water as needed (the dough must be smooth and not sticky), and shape into a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and set aside.
- Peel and core the pears, then cut them into quarters. Display inside the springform, the curvy part touching the bottom of the form.
- Cook the sugar in a medium saucepan placed on low heat, without touching it. When sugar starts to turn slightly golden in color, remove from heat, and pour onto the pears. Sprinkle with butter (diced) and saffron.
- Roll the dough into a slightly bigger circle than the size of the springform, then place over the pears. Carefully place the sides in between the pears and the edge of the form. With a sharp knife, make a few cuts in the crust to leave the air go out.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before turning the tarte tatin upside down onto a serving dish.
- Slightly toast the pistachios in a frying pan until golden, stirring constantly, and sprinkle over the tarte tatin. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.