No, really, why not? I can proudly say that this experiment of mine turned out a huge success!
In the original tart ‘tatine’ recipe there is caramel which the French traditionally make out of sugar and butter. Substituting butter is a no-brainer, just use any vegetable oil of your choice: coconut, grapeseed, sunflower etc. However to replace sugar, be avant-garde a bit and just use a hearty splash of maple syrup. It goes delightfully well with the onion, making each bite a stunning play of aroma and flavour. Your guests will definitely enjoy these tenderly sweet moments. And, I mean, they really are sweet, because the tart is. Not quite enough to serve it as a dessert, but enough to surprise your audience when you serve it as an appetizer. Though don’t get caught up in the five-course dinners that the French love so much, just get some rich dry wine and fresh greens. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon to the latter and you’ve got yourself a splendid evening feast.
Now that you grasp the concept, add whatever ‘twists’ you wish, it’s all up to your imagination!
a 24-26 cm baking pan
a middle-size frying pan
a rolling pin
a piece of parchment paper
a middle-size bowl
a small bowl
a big 28-30 cm plate
For the filling:
500 gr small red onions (app. 10 bulbs)
80 ml maple syrup
40 ml vegetable oil
salt (to taste)
For the crust:
150 gr spelt flour
75 gr whole-grain wheat flour
75 gr refined wheat flour
150 ml vegetable oil
75 ml water
1 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
1. First the crust: In a small bowl mix oil and water, put in the freezer to chill for 15-20 min: the liquids have to be freezing cold.
Meanwhile mix the dry ingredients in a bigger bowl. Make a well, add the cold liquids and mix rapidly.
In order to have a perfectly ‘crusty’ crust the mixing has to be brief. Don’t try to make the mixture homogenous, it’ll turn stiff in the oven because of overworked gluten. To get the best result, mix the ingredients with light, swift motions until they have a crumbly consistency and then put the bowl into the fridge while you are preparing the filling.
2. In a frying pan mix maple syrup and oil. Carefully heat and let bubble for a couple minutes stirring constantly. Then transfer to your baking pan and spread evenly over the bottom. It’s OK if your mixture has separated.
3. Peel and slice the onions lengthwise. Place them in the baking pan, cut facing bottom. Fill up all area available.
4. Take your crust mixture out of the fridge, transfer to a parchment paper, form a circle the diameter of your baking pan making sure the thickness is even. Use the rolling pin if needed.
Carefully flip the crust on top of the onions and peel the parchment paper off. Tuck in any crust overhangs and poke the dough with a knife to allow steam pass freely during baking.
5. Bake in a pre-heated oven for an hour at 125 C. You can check whether it’s ready by skewering one of the onions. If it’s soft and gets pierced through easily, than it’s time to remove the tart from the oven.
6. Before flipping the tart, place a towel on top of the crust and gently rotate it in the pan while pressing. By doing so you are making sure that no onions are left stuck to the bottom after you’ve flipped your tart.
7. Take a slightly concave plate that is slightly bigger than your baking pan and put it over. Then, using your oven gloves to hold this weird ‘construct’, flip it over with a fast motion. Remove the outer pan and voilà! You’ve just made an actual French upside-down Tart Tatin! Let it cool slightly and then serve immediately.