I am often not a fan of bananas, but they take to caramel so naturally and really start to taste quite good while they’re at it too. So it’s no surprise that tarte tatin is deemed an acceptable receptacle for bananas in my book. (Banana bread is alright too, if we must!)
This particular tarte tatin was inspired by a flavour combination from one of Ottolenghi’s columns in the Guardian – caramelized bananas with miso and anise. I love the combination, which I’ve transferred over to a tarte tatin, made dark, bitter and salty.
As with tarte tatin, start by making a caramel, but then stir in miso, which cooks and burns a bit in the hot caramel, lending it salt and umami. Then, arrange the bananas tightly overtop. I’ve discovered that this tart is best made using moderately ripe yellow bananas as opposed to very spotty brown bananas. I always let bananas go too far so I’ve tried the super spotty type but found that overly ripe bananas tend to lose their shape and shrink during baking.
After that, sprinkle the bananas with some ground star anise – as earlier renditions showed, the star anise flavour can cook a bit too much in the caramel and become lost. To account for that, I’ve divided the star anise in half, with part in the caramel but the remainder on top of the bananas to preserve its flavour. Finally, cover it all with a sheet of pastry. While I usually like making my pastry quite salty, the miso provides salt aplenty so I’ve cut the amount of salt that I usually put in.
And there we go! It’s all in the title – tarte tatin + banana + miso + star anise.
burnt miso & star anise banana tarte tatin
pastry – or substitute a sheet of puff pastry or any sort of flaky pastry you prefer
- 125g whole wheat flour (or use all-purpose if you prefer)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 90g cold butter
- 3-4 tbsp ice water
- 28g (2 tbsp) butter
- 70g (~3/8c) granulated sugar
- 15g (1 tbsp) red miso
- 1 tsp ground star anise, divided
- 3 bananas, preferably yellow and barely spotted (overly ripe, and they lose their shape and shrink in the oven)
For the pastry, you can use a flaky pastry of any sort that you prefer, such as pie or puff pastry. Here is the whole-wheat one I use – you may find the photo tutorial of this process helpful. Stir together the flour, salt and sugar. Dump on the counter. Cut the butter into thin slabs and coat on both sides in the flour.
Use the heel of your hand to flatten the butter slabs. Use a bench scraper to fold half of the butter-flour mixture over onto itself. Repeat the flattening and folding until the butter resembles thin flakes. Make a well in the centre for the ice water. Mix into the dough by stirring some of the flour mixture in, and then folding and flattening the dough over onto itself. Continue until you’ve formed a shaggy dough.
Wrap in plastic and chill completely.
Take the dough from the fridge and lightly dust a surface with flour. Roll out into an oblong shape and fold into thirds like a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out into another oblong/rectangular shape and fold into thirds again. Repeat one more time and then wrap in plastic and chill completely.
When ready to make the filling, preheat the oven to 375F.
Melt the butter in a cast iron pan and then sprinkle the sugar overtop. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is melted and caramelized, stirring. Cook the caramel until amber, and your desired degree of caramelization.
Remove from the heat and stir in the miso using a long-handled spoon and some caution as the caramel will sputter a bit. Continue stirring until any lumps of miso are gone and the caramel is smooth. If the caramel hardens or seizes, return to the heat as needed to rewarm it. Once the miso is incorporated, sprinkle 1/2 tsp of ground star anise overtop and stir in. Set the caramel aside.
Slice each banana in half lengthwise while still in the peel. Remove the banana halves from the peel and arrange, cut side down, over the caramel. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 tsp ground star anise.
Take the chilled pastry from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface until the pastry is about 1/4-1/8″ thick and about 11″ in diametre. If it’s a lopsided shape, trim any excess pieces so it’s a rough circle. Drape overtop of the bananas, tucking in the excess edges all around. Set the pan on a baking tray to catch any juices that might bubble up and overflow.
Bake at for around 25-30 minutes or until the top crust is cooked through – it will appear golden brown and flaky, and caramel will be bubbling up around the edges.
Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for five minutes. Now, to flip it out of the pan – set a wooden cutting board on top of the pan. Using oven mitts, grip the pan and cutting board on both sides and flip over, then lift up the cast iron pan, leaving the tart on the cutting board. Slide onto a serving plate. Best served warm, with some heavy cream drizzled on top if desired.