Posts

Tarte Tatin – An Easy French Classic

There’s something a bit mysterious about a Tarte Tatin, isn’t there? This French classic dessert looks so decadent with all its caramel glistening over tightly-packed apples – would you believe it’s so much easier than it looks?

According to my old 1984 edition of Larousse Gastronomique (given as a wedding present as a young Scot about to embark in a French kitchen), the Tarte Tatin dessert was first served in Paris at Maxim’s giving a bow to its creators, the famous Tatin sisters.

Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin came up with this irresistible dessert quite by accident at the end of the 19th century while running their hotel/restaurant in the French Sologne region, south of Paris.  The story goes (I have two conflicting ones from different cookbooks) that, as the apples were caramelising in sugar and butter in the oven for their tarte solognote, they either realised they’d forgotten the pastry or that they’d burned the apples, so they simply plopped the pastry on top, baked then flipped the tart upside down, and Mon Dieu, look what turned up? From then on, it was served as their speciality until they retired in 1906, although they never called it a Tarte Tatin.

Tarte Tatin a French classic dessert recipe

Newly married, I was totally intimidated by my French Mother-in-Law’s Tarte Tatin. Her dessert looked so sumptuous and grand with its glistening slices of warm caramelised apples sitting on top of a crispy pastry, just oozing with the sticky juices. How did she do it?

Pressing her short and simple recipe in my hand, I was assured it was easy and inrattable; “You can’t go wrong”, she said.
Well I did get it wrong.

For a start, I used apples that didn’t survive the cooking process (Pink Lady) and when I quickly turned the pan upside down for the grand finale de-moulding moment, some of the apples stuck to the bottom and the rest sat there miserably as light, uncaramelised mush. I thought of inventing a new Apple Sauce Tart but somehow it didn’t have quite the same “accident appeal” as that of the elderly Tatin Sisters.

So, lesson learned: use good quality tart apples such as Granny Smith or French Golden Delicious. As a result of a few other little helpful tweaks to add to mother-in-law’s instructions, you can also now be rest assured that what flips out at the end will be much more of a pleasure!

Tarte Tatin French recipe for caramelised apple tart

CLASSIC TARTE TATIN RECIPE

Serves 4-6

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: About 1 hour

2 tbsp water
120g granulated sugar (plus 2 tbsp)
50g unsalted butter (plus 15g extra)
splash of Calvados (optional)

pinch salt (optional)
5-6 apples (Golden Delicious or Granny Smith)
200g puff pastry (ideally ready-rolled/thawed, if frozen)

For best results, butter a round 25cm deep baking tin, or use a good solid-based ovenproof frying pan

tarte tatin recipe method

1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir the water and sugar together and then, over a medium heat, leave it to bubble and simmer until a light golden brown caramel forms (no need to stir – I advise leaving it alone until the caramel turns colour). Stir in the butter (and salt if using) and splash of Calvados until the caramel is smooth and immediately pour into the baking tin.

2. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F (gas 5).  Peel the apples, cut them in half, remove the cores with a sharp knife (or use an apple corer) and cut them again horizontally.

3. Arrange the apples upright in a circle and pack them as tight as you can (they’ll shrink while cooking), filling as much space as possible in the middle.  Cut up any leftover apple and stuff them into the spaces.  Dot with the extra butter (or brush with melted butter) and lightly sprinkle over the 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

4. Remove the apples from the oven to cool slightly as you prepare the pastry.

5. Ideally your puff is ready rolled so there’s no need to do anything. (If the puff pastry is in a block, roll it out to about 2mm thickness and cut out a circle very slightly larger (2-3cm) than the size of the pan you’re using). Place the puff pastry circle on top of the apples, tucking in the sides as far down the edges as you can, as it will neatly hold the apples when turned over at the end. Pierce a few small holes in the pastry to allow any steam to escape – this will prevent the puff pastry from puffing up too much while baking.

6. Bake in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the apple juices leak around the edges.

7. Leave to cool. Run a sharp knife along the edges just to help release the sticky beauty. To turn out the tart, cover the pan with a large deep plate (to catch the juices) and hold the pan and plate together and flip upside down quickly, pastry side down.

Serve slightly warm either on its own, with a dollop of crème fraîche, or why not some Drambuie ice cream for a Scottish-French Auld Alliance dessert?

Tarte tatin a classic French dessert with apples

CLASSIC TARTE TATIN RECIPE
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
32 mins
 

Tarte Tatin, the classic French dessert of caramelised apples served upside down on a crispy base of buttery puff pastry. Created by accident by the Tatin sisters in France's Sologne at the end of the 19th century.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: caramelised apple tart, caramelized apples, tarte tatin
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 419 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 120 g granulated sugar plus 2 tbsp
  • 50 g unsalted butter plus 15g extra
  • splash of Calvados optional
  • pinch salt optional
  • 5-6 apples Golden Delicious or Granny Smith
  • 200 g puff pastry ideally ready-rolled/thawed, if frozen
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir the water and sugar together and then, over a medium heat, leave to bubble and simmer until a light golden brown caramel forms (no need to stir at all until the caramel turns colour). Stir in the butter (and salt if using) and splash of Calvados until the caramel is smooth and immediately pour into the baking tin.

  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F (gas 5). Peel the apples, cut them in half, remove the cores with a sharp knife (or use an apple corer) and cut them again horizontally.
  3. Arrange the apples upright in a circle and pack them as tight as you can (they’ll shrink while cooking), filling as much space as possible in the middle. Cut up any leftover apple and stuff them into the spaces. Dot with the extra butter (or brush with melted butter) and lightly sprinkle over the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove the apples from the oven to cool slightly as you prepare the pastry.
  5. Ideally your puff is ready rolled so there’s no need to do anything. (If the puff pastry is in a block, roll it out to about 2mm thickness and cut out a circle very slightly larger (2-3cm) than the size of the pan you’re using). Place the puff pastry circle on top of the apples, tucking in the sides as far down the edges as you can, as it will neatly hold the apples when turned over at the end. Pierce a few small holes in the pastry to allow any steam to escape – this will prevent the puff pastry from puffing up too much while baking.
  6. Bake in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the apple juices leak around the edges.
  7. Leave to cool. Run a sharp knife along the edges just to help release the sticky beauty. To turn out the tart, cover the pan with a large deep plate (to catch the juices) and hold the pan and plate together and flip upside down quickly, pastry side down.
Recipe Notes

Serve slightly warm either on its own, with a dollop of crème fraîche, or why not some Drambuie ice cream for a Scottish-French Auld Alliance dessert?

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

French Tarte Tatin Recipe

Mango and Orange Tarte Tatin for Marsha’s Birthday

Tatin! Joyeux Anniversaire from Paris, Marsha!

I just couldn’t make this tarte big enough for my lovely friend, Marsha. You see, it’s her birthday. It’s also her first blogoversary approaching this month, and she has given me the total honour of being a guest on The Harried Cook, to join her birthday celebrations.

Marsha is the sweetest blogger I’ve virtually met. She’s adorable (I’m saying that with a French accent, so imagine it as adorrrraaaaable, with a rolled ‘R’ – it sounds so much better) and fun. Can you imagine her lucky husband and daughter, sampling her latest creations such as honey and sesame bread, and lemon-lime meringue pie? (Another great egg yolk recipe!) Speaking of which, do you remember her guest post with an incredible Strawberries and Cream Mousse Pie, using a Pâte à Bombe method? Marsha says she’s harried, but I admire how she juggles her day job and family life, plus manages to move house like a warm Indian breeze.

What is this for a birthday cake, you ask? Well, in our house we don’t really eat cake. We eat macarons… and right now we’re eating so many tarte tatins. It’s the season, as the humble apple is the basis of the classic French Tarte Tatin. It’s our winter version of eating the recommended daily portions of fruit. I guess it’s healthy, even if there is a touch of butter and sugar – just to carmelise it, you understand.

When I was newly married, my French Mother-in-Law would produce the most sumptious Tarte Tatin for dessert. I was in awe. It sounded grand and looked complicated. How could I possibly return home and make this for Antoine without goofing up? She had given me the recipe and told me it was dead easy. Hey, am I supposed to believe everything she tells me? So, I went home and made anything but Tarte Tatin since I had no courage. Then one day I saw it in a French magazine and saw how quick and easy this French dessert was to make. A no brainer. That’s me. That’s my Tarte Tatin. It’s the same syndrome as macaron-making, don’t you think? Picture Julie Andrews singing, “I have confidence in me”!

The Tatin sisters, who ran a restaurant at the start of last century in Sologne, gave the dessert its name. The story goes that as the apples were cooking they realised they’d forgotten the pastry, so they simply stuffed the pastry on top then flipped the tart upside down and Mon Dieu, look what turned up?

For Marsha’s Tarte Tatin, I picked mangoes, as they’re now appearing on our market stalls, although Marsha quite rightly told me the best ones are from India (these ones are from Peru but that’s all we’re allocated!) And as the oranges are at their best just now, I couldn’t resist adding a touch plus a glow of fresh ginger to spice up our present sub-zero temperatures around Paris.

Mango, Orange & Ginger Tarte Tatin Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: approx.45 minutes
Ingredients:
2 mangoes, firm but sweet (chopped into slices)
1 tsp orange juice
125g light brown sugar
70g unsalted butter
1 tbsp zest from an untreated orange
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 ready-prepared round of puff pastry
Utensils: A good non-stick cake pan that can transfer to the oven (I just used a non-stick frying pan with removable handle)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Heat the sugar and butter in a cake pan, adding the teaspoon of orange juice. Peel and cut the mangoes into slices and pack them closely together in the pan. Add the orange zest and the ginger. Cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until you see the deep golden caramel forming underneath the fruit.
3. Place the round of puff pastry on top of the fruit and tuck it in around the edges of the pan. Prick the pastry and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly for about 10 minutes. Place a large plate (preferably one that dips slightly in the middle to catch the juices) upside down on the tart and flip it over. Tatin!

Happy Sweet Birthday, Marsha and congratulations on your first blog anniversary!

Come join us over at The Harried Cook, for my Guest Post

and let’s sing Happy Birthday to Marsha at the top of our voice!

Tatin! Happy Birthday