These days, we’re turning to foods that are equally comforting and nostalgic. And with that extra time on our hands, we’re baking and cooking a lot more than usual. So in the interest of continuing to level up your baking game, it’s time you looked to award-winning pastry chef Julie Jones’ baking tome, “The Pastry School.”
Related Reading: 9 Amazing Chocolate Desserts You Can Make in Your Slow Cooker
The Pastry School: Sweet and Savory Pies, Tarts and Treats to Bake at Home, $27.99 on Amazon
In this book, the British chef showcases her stunning bakes, detailing how home cooks can craft beautiful pastries that inarguably belong in a museum. These pages brim with pies, tarts, and other snacks, delicately arranged with dainty frills. She guides bakers through the process of making 10 essential types of pastry—like choux, puff, and hot water—and each section is replete with step-by-step instructions and photographs so you’ll always know what you should be doing. Pastries are a mix of both sweet and savory fare, and you’ll find the likes of an onion and gruyere tart, double chocolate eclairs, and mini beignets rolled in sugar.
Nonstick Mini Tart Pans Set of 12, $17.99 on Amazon
While most people are repurposing bananas into banana bread, you could be transforming them into Julie’s salted caramel banana tarte tatin. This riff simply swaps apples for chopped bananas, elegantly positioned in homemade puff pastry dough, slathered with salted caramel, and baked until the tins are bubbling with caramel. Banana bread who?
And if you are missing any ingredients or tools, no matter; there are plenty of workarounds. For a quickie version, swap homemade puff pastry for the store bought kind, and if you don’t have a few tarte tatin tins laying around, a muffin tin will work just fine.
Salted Caramel Banana Tarte Tatins Recipe
Salted caramel with baked bananas is a match made in heaven. The sweetness and flavour of the fruit intensifies during baking and the salt balances that perfectly. My advice is to make these into mini tarte tatins, those not meant for sharing (upon tasting you’ll understand why!), I very much doubt you’ll want to share yours either.
Salted Caramel Banana Tarte Tatin
- 1 quantity Puff pastry
- Plain (all-purpose) flour, for dusting
- 3-4 firm, not too ripe bananas, peeled
- Egg wash
- For the salted caramel: 150g (5¹⁄³oz/¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 100ml (¹⁄³ cup plus 1 tablespoon) water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 50g (3½ tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1cm (½in) cubes
- Pinch of Maldon salt flakes
- Make the pastry (or use store bought). After the final fold, rest the pastry in the fridge for at least 1 hour. If you have made this further in advance, see the notes on page 19. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry to 5mm (¼in) depth. Cut out four circles, 1cm (½in) larger than the tins being used. Rest on non-stick baking paper, then place on a baking tray and put in the fridge for later. Save any extra pastry for another use.
- Cut four circles of non-stick baking paper to tightly fit the bottom of each tarte tatin tin and set inside.
- Cut the bananas into 3mm (⅛in) slices, using a mandolin if you want to be precise – I then cut circles from each slice of banana using the reverse of a piping nozzle, but this isn’t essential, it just gives a nice even finish. Set the prepared bananas to one side.
- To make the caramel, place the sugar, water and vanilla in a frying pan and set over a medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved, keep a close eye on the liquid, but do not stir. As the sugar starts to caramelize and turn amber, swirl the contents of the pan around so that it cooks evenly. When light-amber bubbles start to pop, add the butter – a little at a time – whisking between each addition. Add a little Maldon salt, give it one final whisk, then divide the caramel among the paper-lined tins. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then neatly arrange the prepared banana slices snugly around the tins, working from the inside out. Add a second layer of bananas to any part that needs levelling off – there’s no need to be neat this time, these slices won’t show when each tart is flipped.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas Mark 4. Remove the pastry discs from the fridge and put one of these on top of each of the banana tarts, tucking the edges into the tins with the back of a spoon or similar.
- Brush the surface of the pastry with the egg wash. Add a small steam hole to each lid, place the tarts on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the pastry has risen and the sides of the tins are bubbling with caramel.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then invert each onto a serving plate. Remove the paper discs, sprinkle the tops with some extra salt flakes and serve warm, perhaps with ice cream.
Header image by Peter Cassidy.