9/29/2009

Guava Tarte Tatin for High Tea

A Monthly Mingle High Tea, what fun, and  hosted this month by Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen.   It brought to mind my first experience of afternoon tea as a sort of cultural  ritual.  We were in our version of a "Gap Year" traveling, occasionally working at the odd job.  Landing in Australia, I found employment for a time as secretary (one of many) for a large manufacturing company, and every day at, I believe it was 3:30 p.m., the "Tea Lady" would come around wheeling her trolley with biscuits (cookies to me) and tea. I remember being so amused that these Aussies would have their coffee iced, and tea hot, rather than the reverse.  Hey, I was from Hawaii, via California.

We do have Afternoon Tea in Hawaii at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the charming, landmark pink stucco antique in Waikiki, and it is done in the real old style.  For a price.  I took my mother there once and we felt so pampered.

As this Monthly Mingle theme is "High Tea Treats", I have done a Guava Tarte Tatin.  Yes, guava again. It is very simple, yet the flavors are a spicy, sweet complexity.  After making a batch of Guava Compote, and serving it for one dessert, I decided to use the remainder for this tart. Of course, it is not necessary to first make a Guava Compote.  You can simply use 4 cups chopped guava, mixed with some spices if you'd like, or not.  It helps if you've sliced some of the fruit evenly and can arrange it nicely on the bottom of the pan in the caramel, as that bottom layer will be on top and look beautiful when upended.  But if you're like me (unfastidious, i.e. lazy), be comforted, it's not really necessary, and will still taste fabulous.
You will notice my lack of precision fruit arrangement here.  This recipe is adapted from Alice Waters' Tarte Tatin in The Art of Simple Food.

Directions:
You will need a pie pastry or puff pastry, rolled out to an 11" circle.  Transfer it to parchment paper on a baking sheet and refrigerate until needed.  Or, easier yet, use a pre-made, frozen pie crust and remove it from the freezer a few minutes before topping the fruit, just so it softens a bit.

Trim, halve, remove seeds from, and cut into even segments:
3 to 4 lbs. fresh, ripe guavas.
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Put a 9" cast-iron skillet or or stove-top to oven type skillet on medium-high heat.  Then, add:
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons sugar
Let the sugar and butter melt, and then cook til brown and bubbly (being careful not to let it burn), stirring with a heat-proof spoon or swirling the pan so the mixture caramelizes evenly.  Take off the heat when it is a nice, deep caramel color. An alternate recipe, using considerably more butter, sugar and time, is available here, for those of you who (like me) may wonder about the small amount of caramel called for.  However, I will tell you right now, Alice Waters knows what she is talking about. Simple can be wonderful.

Now arrange your guava slices, starting around the outside edge of the pan, rounded sides down, on the caramel, with the narrower tips towards the center (if you're being tidy).  Make another ring of guavas inside the first ring, and so on to the center, filling the gaps with smaller pieces, cut to fit.

Place your pastry circle over the fruit, tucking down between the edges of the pan and the guavas.  Cut 3 or 4 little slashes in the top for steam to escape, and bake in the middle level of your oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is well browned.  The contents of the pan should shift slightly when shaken a bit.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack for a minute or two.  Then hold a slightly larger serving plate over the top, holding it tightly to the top of the pan, and flip quickly.  Alice recommends giving your pan a gentle twist while lifting off.

What could be nicer than fresh fruit, caramel and pastry? Served warm with a scoop of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche, and you've got it.
This will be accompanied, of course, by lots of other assorted crumpets, tea sandwiches, teas, etc. at our cyber gathering, the round-up to be posted sometime after the October 15th deadline for submissions.
PS - The round-up is now posted.   Check out all the fabulous food.

4 comments:

Aparna said...

What a lovely treat for tea. We get guavas aplenty here so should try this out.
Like in Australia, we also have biscuits, cold coffee and hot tea. :)
Thanks for joining us at High Tea.

MeetaK said...

it's been ages since i have had a guava! i love the sound of this. what a perfect entry for the monthly mingle. thank you!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Ah, the Royal Hawaiian... I haven't been there for 20 years! What a romantic spot. I was born at Tripler Army Hospital, several decades ago.
I was in Kauai last October, and LOVED the farmer's markets and all the fruits that we don't see in California. How lucky you are. Guava Tarte Tatin! I'd love to try that!

Claudia said...

It seems I find new ways to use the guavas every year. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with the supply though.