Beetroot and Feta Cheese Tarte Tatin and a trip to the Sugarplum Cakeshop
Preparation time: ~70 minutes
Calories: ~660 per serving
This post today is inspired by the wonderful Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall whose fantastic series “Veg every day” I recently finished watching. If you live in England then you’ve almost certainly seen him on TV, but for those that haven’t, I really recommend checking out his shows and books. He has a passion for food and a love for his profession which I’m sure could inspire even the most indolent home cook. When I saw a beetroot tarte tatin he made on his show I just knew I had to give it a try, although I tweaked it a bit as I found pure beetroot a little plain.
Before I get to that though I went back to that American cake shop in Paris this weekend and I remembered to take a camera for once so I can actually share a few photos with you now. It took me a long time to find a parking space because Paris has an annoying habit of closing off huge swathes of roads on Sundays for use by cyclists, pedestrians and rollerblade users only. Eventually though I squeezed my small car into a cheeky little parking space along Rue Monge and then set off up the little cobbled back streets to the café
I know that what I’m about to say might sound like heresy but I’m not a massive fan of the French café culture. As a Brit, a satisfying café visit should consist of the following: a large cup of filter coffee or tea, and not this camomile and raspberry infusion junk but proper tea – Ceylon, Assam, Darjeeling, yeah baby! I should have the possibility to get some toast, or a slice of cake – proper cake… great fluffy, sponge layers, sandwiched together with lashings of frosting which should normally make you feel terribly unhealthy but never quite does because it’s always so delicious and just slides on down oh so easily. I’m sorry to say that this isn’t my experience with French cafés. Don’t get me wrong – I love espresso but it’s the kind of thing I want three of after dinner. A tiny dainty little cup and a lavish, intricately decorated, insanely rich cake just isn’t really my thing.
This is why I was so pleased, the first time I found the Sugarplum Cakeshop – there’s not an Opéra cake or éclair to be found there, and they must be on to something because far from eschewing the place, Parisians seem to love it too. I read that at least 60% of its visitors are Parisians, with the remaining 40% made up of tourists and ex-pats. The coffee shop is just around the corner from rue Mouffetard, one of Paris’ oldest and liveliest districts with many restaurants and interesting little stores. But I’m not here to see restaurants and fountains. I came here for one reason and that was to have cake. I’d actually had a few unhealthy days, food-wise, before this visit and I’d been intending on having only a coffee, but as I said afterwards in a text message to my wife: “Oops, some cake accidentally fell into my open mouth”. Oh dear .
It’s a shame the Sugarplum Cake Shop isn’t a bit bigger. They’d do an absolutely roaring trade. As it is the place is a little on the small side, but cosy nonetheless. Unfortunately it’s one of those places which is very popular with the “buy one cup of coffee and sit there for 4 hours” crowd which certainly doesn’t help the seating issues but despite that it’s still very much worth a visit. The staff are sunny and friendly and the array of teas, coffees and cold drinks on offer is vast. That’s not mentioning the cakes though. We went for an outrageously rich, squidgy chocolate cookie and a caramel pecan slice, and then ended up going back for a hefty slice of peanut butter cake – deliciously rich, moist chocolate cake, sandwiched with great thick layers of peanut butter flavoured frosting! (Please excuse the half-eaten appearance of the cake in the second photo there ).
The Sugarplum Cake Shop is open Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm to 7pm, 68 rue du Cardinal Lemoine 75005, Paris, but if you’re planning on coming to Paris for a summer holiday and want to check it out then plan accordingly because in true Parisian fashion they’re going to be closed for the entire month of August!
On to today’s recipe – I’ve got an announcement! This is the first video in the new format today. No more boring narrated photos, now we have a bit of “action”. Now, this is just a beginning. I hope to make them better, so don’t laugh . Feedback about the video, the sound levels, critiques and the like are more than welcome to help me improve. I hope you enjoy the recipe – I know that not everyone is a big fan of beetroot but I really think that this one might just change your mind! Have a fantastic day and see you back again on the weekend!
Beetroot and Feta Cheese Tarte Tatin
- ~3 Raw Beetroot
- 25g Butter
- ~1 tbsp Olive Oil
- ~1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- ~2 tbsps Sugar
- 1 Pack of Puff Pastry (~350g)
- ~100g Feta Cheese
- Chopped spring onions to garnish
- Start off by preheating your oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Peel the beetroot and chop into bite-sized chunks. Heat the butter and olive oil through in a pan. You’ll need to use a pan which is suitable for use in the oven so a copper or steel pan is ideal. Once the oil and butter is sizzling, add in the beetroot, enough to cover the bottom of the pan but not come up the sides, and mix well to coat in the hot fat.
- Pour in the vinegar and the sugar. Stir well and simmer slightly to reduce down into a rich syrup. Cover the pan with foil and then place into the preheated oven for about 30 or 40 minutes, until the beetroot is tender.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let stand for a few minutes and then drape the puff pastry over the top, tucking any excess into the sides. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is a rich golden brown.
- Crumble the feta cheese and chop your spring onions finely.
- Once ready, remove the pan with the tarte tatin from the oven. Allow to rest for a few minutes before running a spatula or knife around the edge, just to ensure no pastry is stuck to the side of the pan. Place a plate or board on top and flip the pan in one motion. Remove the pan, decorate with the feta cheese and chopped spring onions and enjoy immediately!