Hi, I’m Korena from Korena in the Kitchen and this month I’m exciting to be bringing you the tarte Tatin! This classic French dessert is basically the apple pie version of an upside-down cake: apples are caramelized in sugar in a saucepan, covered with pastry and baked, and then inverted on a plate to serve. It’s a great example of the magic of caramelized sugar: the apples take on a deep, rich mahogany colour and become infused with the complex flavours of a well-cooked caramel, and the crisp puff pastry base also becomes practically candied with caramel at the edges, resulting in a fantastic mix of soft, crunchy, and chewy textures.
The tart is named after the Tatin sisters, who ran a hotel near Paris in the 1880s. Apparently, one day one of the sisters forgot to put a bottom crust on her apple pie, but instead of the disaster she was expecting to pull out of the oven, she ended up with a dessert so loved by the hotel guests that it became the hotel’s signature dish. However, this sweet story conflicts with the fact that a similar upside-down apple tart called tarte Solognotte (named after the Sologne region in France) existed long before the tarte Tatin, suggesting that the Tatin sisters’ creation was actually just an updated and improved version of the tarte Solognotte. Either way, it is a stunningly delicious yet simple and rustic dessert.
While apples are the classic and most common filling for a tarte Tatin, you can make one with almost any fruit or vegetable, sweet or savoury! Read on for tips and suggestions on how to customize your tarte Tatin.
Rough Puff Pastry recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini
Blog-checking lines: For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.
March 27, 2015
You can find the PDF file for this challenge here
Generally, a tarte Tatin is baked in a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-proof saucepan, however if you don’t have one, the filling can first be cooked on the stove in whatever saucepan you have and then transferred to a cake tin, covered with pastry, and baked.
The best apples for a tarte Tatin can be either tart or sweet, but they should be firm apples that hold their shape during cooking – otherwise you’ll end up with a pan full of applesauce. Good varieties available in North America include Granny Smith, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, and Jonagold. I used Golden Delicious and they held up nicely.
Take care when cooking the apples in the caramel – it boils quite vigorously and is VERY hot. I’ve increased the apples in the filling because this recipe makes a generous amount of caramel. Feel free to play around with the proportion of caramel to apples to suit your taste. And yes, it is quite a sweet dessert, but the caramel will have lots of flavour other than just “sweet”.
Your tarte Tatin must be baked upside-down (ie, with the filling on the bottom and the pastry crust on top) and inverted for serving. The pastry must be homemade. The filling can be savoury or sweet (ie, fruit or vegetable). The sugar in the filling must be cooked to a caramel on the stove-top.
Your tarte Tatin doesn’t have to be apple – use whatever sweet or savoury fruit or vegetable filling you want! Here are some tips when using fruit other than apples:
“While apples are the standard, the technique of caramelizing the fruit and topping it with pastry can be used with pears, mangoes (yes, mangoes – they make a great Tatin, but make sure to choose firm fruit) or quinces. The Tatin technique is also good for soft summer fruits like apricots and (peeled) peaches, but be gentle in that case: it’s best to cook the butter and sugar in the skillet without the fruit. When the caramel is the color you want, remove the pan from the heat and cool the mixture. Arrange the fruit in the pan, cover it with the pastry and bake.” ~ Dorie Greenspan, from All Things Considered on NPR
For vegetable fillings, anything that could be roasted in the oven would probably work, from root vegetables to tomatoes. Generally, savoury vegetable fillings still contain a small amount of caramelized sugar as a glaze.
See “Additional Information” for some links to non-traditional tarte Tatin recipes. For other filling ideas, a Google search is your best friend.
Your pie crust/pastry must be homemade, but you can use any recipe you want. The rough puff pastry recipe provided is a great technique for any home baker to have in their back pocket for making quick, easy puff pastry, however tarte Tatin can also be made with classic puff pastry or regular pie crust/pâté brisée.
Rough Puff Pastry: 15 minutes plus 1 hour chilling time (or overnight)
Tarte Tatin: about 90 minutes for prep, cooking, and baking
Make the pastry first, then while it chills, prepare the apples and caramel for the filling. By the time you are ready to cover the filling with pastry, it will be chilled enough to roll out.
- HEAVY oven-proof metal (preferably cast iron or stainless steel) saucepan, 9” or 10” (23 cm or 25 cm) in diameter (or a large saucepan in which to cook the caramel and apples plus a 9” or 10” (23 cm or 25 cm) round cake pan)
- serving platter that is slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan above
- wooden spoon or heat-proof silicon spatula
- oven mitts
- medium bowl
- large bowl
- pastry blender (or two table knives)
- bench scraper (optional)
- rolling pin
- paring knife
- apple peeler (or paring knife)
Recipe 1: Rough Puff Pastry
Servings: one single pastry crust
1 cup (250 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2/3 cup (160 ml) (5 oz) (140 gm) unsalted butter, cold
¼ tsp fine salt
¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.
Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).
If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.
Recipe 2: Tarte Tatin
6 large or 7-8 medium-sized apples (see “Notes” above for the best type of apple for this dish)
Juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons (90 ml) (3 oz) (85 gm) unsalted butter (or use salted and skip the salt)
1-1/3 cups (320 ml) (9½ oz) (265 gm) granulated sugar, divided
Rough Puff Pastry, above
Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Remove the cores in such a way that each apple quarter has a flat inner side: when placed rounded-side-up, it should sit on a flat base. Place the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup (80 ml) (2-1/2 oz) (65 gm) sugar. This will help draw out some of the moisture from the apples and prevent an overly runny caramel. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5. Melt the butter in a very heavy, 9” or 10” (23 cm or 24 cm) oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup (240 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar melts and becomes a pale, smooth caramel. The sugar will seem dry and chunky at first, then will start to melt and smooth out. If the butter appears to separate out from the caramel, just keep whisking until it is a cohesive sauce. Remove from the heat.
Discard the liquid that has come out of the apples, then add the apple quarters to the caramel, round side down. They won’t all fit in a single layer at first, but as they cook they will shrink a bit. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, pressing down gently on the apples with a spoon to cover them in the caramel liquid. Move the apples around the pan gently so that they all cook evenly, trying to keep them round side down. When the apples have shrunk enough to mostly fit in a single layer and are starting to soften but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat.
With a wooden spoon, arrange the apples, round side down, in a single layer of concentric circles covering the bottom of the pan. Set aside until the filling stops steaming before covering with pastry.
Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle about 1” (25 mm) in diameter larger than your saucepan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5 oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, increasing the oven temperature to moderately hot 400˚F/200°C/gas mark 6 during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking if the pastry isn’t browning properly.
Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula. The tarte Tatin can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature. Suggested accompaniments include vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraîche.
Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Tarte Tatin doesn’t keep or store particularly well: it is best served warm from the oven, but can also be served at room temperature the same day it is made.
Some non-traditional tarte Tatin recipes for inspiration:
- Pineapple and coconut
- Eggplant with black pepper caramel (yes, it’s a dessert – someone please try this!)
- Sweet tomato (also a dessert!)
The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of “alternate baking/cooking”. If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it. If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. The responsibility is YOURS regardless of what health issue you’re dealing with. Please consult your physician with any questions before using an ingredient you are not familiar with. Thank you!