Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas mark 6.
Using a large ovenproof frying pan (approx 28cm) gently melt the butter on a medium heat with the star anise, vanilla pod and cardamom pods. Add the sugar and gently colour until everything is pale yellow.
Peel and slice the apples in half and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place neatly, face down, into the pan and set aside.
Roll out the puff pastry into a circle, approx 28cm in diameter and ½cm thick. Carefully place the pastry over the entire pan, pressing it all around the apples to form a tight seal. The apples at the edge of the pan can be lifted slightly and the pastry tucked underneath.
Put the pan on a low heat. After a couple of minutes lift the pan, place your hand over the pastry and, holding it tight, pour off the excess liquid. Repeat this process twice before placing the pan into the oven for approx 25-30 minutes. After this time, leave to rest for about five minutes, which will allow the caramel to settle and become firm.
To serve, position a lightly oiled plate, which is larger than the pan, over the top and turn out the tatin, being careful not to spill the caramel that may still be hot. Serve with good quality, real vanilla ice cream.
Here is a top tip from Jean-Christophe Novelli to help you bake the perfect Tarte Tatin… When you see the pastry start moving around in the pan, it’s time to put it straight in the oven.
About Jean-Christophe Novelli
Jean-Christophe is a multi-Michelin Star and 5/5 AA Rosette award-winning chef, having had restaurants in London, France and South Africa, a gastropub in Harpenden and now concentrating on entertaining visitors to his cooking school, the Novelli Academy, based at his Hertfordshire farmhouse in Tea Green, near Luton. He has appeared on a wide variety of the UK’s most popular cookery programmes and has written many books including his latest success ‘Simply Novelli’ where he shows how to cook French classic recipes, healthily and quickly.