Tarte Tatin, also known as Tarte des demoiselles Tatin, is one of France’s most legendary desserts. The idea for this novel upside down tart is attributed to the Tatin sisters, Stephanie and Caroline, who made the tarts in the family’s Tatin Hotel in Lamonte-Beuvron in the Solonge region of central France in the 1830’s. Apples are baked in a shallow pan along with butter and sugar topped with a pastry crust. Once the apples are caramelized the tart is inverted onto a serving plate revealing the deeply caramelized apples sitting atop a crisp sweet pastry crust. It’s all quite magical in its simplicity. The tarte Tatin is remarkably easy to prepare while it is its buttery caramelized apple filling that gives it an unassuming elegance and a notoriety that is all its own.
The American take on this idea is of course pineapple upside down cake. Absolutely delicious as well. For recipe (Click here).
Tarte Tatin serves 6 to 8
- sweet pastry, rolled out into a 12 inch round and chilled
- 1 ½ kilo/ 3 pounds firm tart apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 8 tablespoons/4oz unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Select a heavy bottomed oven proof pan or skillet and place it on the stove top over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the pan and stir in about 1/3 cup sugar into the butter. Cook for a couple of minutes until the sugar is melted and bubbling up nicely in the butter. Begin placing apple quarters into the pan, rounded side down, around the perimeter of the pan. Then continue to fill in the center of the pan with apple quarters in a single layer.
Sprinkle another 1/3 cup sugar over the apples and drizzle with with half of the remaining melted butter.
As the apples cook you will notice some shrinkage. Push the apples together in the pan and slip more apple quarters in between them. The idea is to completely fill the bottom of the pan as tightly as possible with apples. Wedge in any remaining apple quarters wherever there is any space. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the apples and drizzle with the remaining melted butter.
You will notice the apples releasing their juices. Compress the apples every 10 minutes while they continue to cook. The idea is to slowly reduce the juices and incorporate them into the sugar and butter as it caramelizes. This can take 20 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the apples and check underneath them by lifting them up with a fork. The caramelized sugar under the apples will be a deeper color than the juices you will see bubbling up around the perimeter of the pan. You want a nice golden amber color in the bottom of the pan, so be mindful that the caramelized syrup does not darken too much which can have a bitter flavor.
Once the caramel has thickened and is bubbling up around the apples remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375f/190c
Roll out your pastry about 2 inches larger than the pan of cooked apples and chill until the apples have cooled down a bit more. Then place the pastry dough centered over the apples in the pan. Using a silicone spatula gently tuck the excess dough down the inside edge of the pan to encase the apples.
Using a skewer prick holes into the dough that will allow steam to escape while the tart is baking in the oven.
Place the pan into the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check the dough to see if it is nicely browned and there is caramel bubbling up around the edges of the pan. If not cook another 5 minutes or so as needed.
Remove the tart pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the pan to be sure there are no sticking points.
After about 5 minutes place a large platter over the pan.
Using oven mitts grip the platter and the pan together and flip the pan over in one decisive movement.
The tart should drop onto the platter quite easily. If there are any apples left behind, gently remove them with a knife and place them back into their place on the top of the tart.
Traditionally Tarte Tatin is served warm. Simply slice using a wet knife at the table and serve with a pitcher of chilled cream, ice cream, or thick yogurt.