I look on this tarte tatin with mixed feelings. I cannot help but admire the striking effect of the multi-colored beets and recall their delicious earthy flavor, accentuated by the hidden layer of caramelized onions and sprinkling of ground hazelnuts. I have to admit, however, that the thick foliage of basil and oregano does not serve purely decorative purposes. It was really my creative attempt to conceal an injury that the tart suffered in a short fall. The incident occurred at the final hour. The tarte had been perfectly arranged, and was finally done baking. As I was reaching up through the ring of the springform pan I baked it in to lift out the base, the hot metal ring slipped past my oven mitt and made contact with the soft skin of my inner arm. Much to my dismay, I dropped the tarte instinctively. I still do not know if I was more upset about the near-ruin of the tarte or the fact that my burned arm was starting to throb - either way, I was not in the best of moods.
I have had kitchen catastrophes before. I have pulled pan after pan of collapsed macarons and unrisen madeleines from the oven, only to stoically set them aside and get to work on my next batch. For some reason this failure shook me more than usual. Perhaps it was the fact that that I had destroyed my perfect product at the final pivotal moment. Perhaps it was the fact that the failing was so obviously my own fault, and not the result of a vague instruction or inexactitude in the recipe. With heavy heart, I did my best to piece back together the broken edges and misplaced beets. A few leaves later, the tart looked as good as new. I have resolved to treat springform pans with more caution in the future, if not for my own safety, then for the safety of whatever cake or tart I produce next.
Do not let my small disaster discourage you from trying this recipe - it was absolutely delicious! I used Cannelle Vanille's beet tarte tatin recipe for the filling and followed the recipe exactly but omitted the fennel as we were all out. Next time I would either include the fennel or replace it with zucchini or some other moist vegetable as my crust got a little dry. I decided to use La Tartine Gourmande's millet, amaranth, and brown rice flour crust as I have had great results with her crust recipes in the past.