The Tatin sisters, who ran a hotel in France in the early 1900s, created this upside-down tart. It is traditionally made with apples, though pears are a common substitute.
100 g (3½ oz) butter, chopped
110 g (3¾ oz/½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
5 beurre bosc pears (about 950 g/2 lb 2 oz), peeled, halved and cored
1 quantity puff pastry
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
1. Put the butter in a 23.5 cm (9¼ inch) diameter non-stick ovenproof frying pan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle over the sugar and add the vanilla seeds and pod. Arrange the pear halves neatly in the pan, cut-side down and with the bases around the outside and tops pointing to the centre. Place one pear half in the middle, cut side up.
2. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Cook the pears for 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally as the mixture will caramelise in the pan unevenly and shaking it will help keep the caramel smooth. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until the cut side of the pears is light golden.
3. Meanwhile, use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a circle, about 4 mm (¼ inch) thick. Use a sharp knife to cut out a 32 cm (12¾ inch) circle from the pastry.
4. When the pears are caramelised underneath, remove the pan from the heat. Place the pastry on top and tuck it in around the side of the pan, close against the pears.
5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and deep golden.
6. Remove from the oven and set aside for 3 minutes to cool slightly. Place a serving plate over the pan and hold the base using a kitchen towel. Carefully invert the tart onto the plate, then remove the pan. Serve the tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream.