This recipe for Tarte Tatin (French Apple Tart) might seem like it has a higher level of difficulty than other recipes but here’s the good news: even if your Tarte does not turn out perfectly, it will still taste great! And, you can hide any imperfections with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. The taste of caramelized apples on a sweet pastry crust is always worth the effort for me. It makes my whole home smell like heaven. I make this all fall and winter when apples are meant to be celebrated.
The recipe has a great history too. It dates back to the 1880s and to two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin, who ran the Hotel Tatin Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron about a 90 minute drive south of Paris. Stéphanie apparently turned her lack of attention to a full apple pie, into rescued upside-down apple pie. It was an immediate hit with the patrons and has been on the menu at this still-standing hôtel ever since.
Though it might seem intimidating at first (you’ve got to flip the thing fresh from the oven!) it is not even ranked as French pastry but rather is seen as a rustic tart. So, take the pressure of expecting perfection off yourself and give it a whirl. As you see in my photos, mine is far from perfect but I assure you – everyone I’ve served this Tarte Tatin (French Apple Tart) to has been very happy with it. I originally learned to make this with my friends Gail Norton, Rosemary Harbrecht and Judy Wood at at cooking camp they hosted in the South of France in 2005 and have slowly modified the crust and a few other small things.
If you make this Tarte and enjoy it, I hope you’ll also try the Apricot Tarte Tatin Gail Norton taught me to make one lovely summer’s eve in the Okanagan. If you master that one, try peaches, pears and even sweet potatoes or leeks or red peppers! Just remember to savour it all.Print
Tarte Tatin (French Apple Tart)
The taste of caramelized apples on a sweet pastry crust is always worth the effort for me.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 90 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 8 to 10 servings 1x
- Category: desserts
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: French
For the crust:
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg yolk
Dash lemon juice
For the apple filling:
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
10 Tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
4 – 5 lbs apples, peeled, cored and halved – I prefer Golden Delicious apples as they have just the right amount of juice and crispness (that’s about 15 apples – depending on their size).
For the crust:
- Pulse the flour, sugar and butter together in a food processor then add the egg, egg yolk and lemon juice and pulse until the mixture comes together.
- Divide the dough in half and refrigerate or freeze one half.
- Refrigerate the dough you’ll use for the tarte as well. It should chill/rest for at least 1 hour.
For the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 425℉
- Spread the sugar evenly over a 10 inch heavy ovenproof skillet.
- Sprinkle the sugar with the vanilla and slice the butter and spread the pieces evenly over the sugar.
- Begin at the outside edge and stand the apple halves on their side, facing in one direction. Pack them as closely together as possible and make a second circle inside the first. Pack a few more in the center. The idea is to get as many apples into the pan as possible – while keeping them neatly arranged.
- Place the skillet over medium heat and cook the apples in the sugar and butter mixture until the sugar turns a golden colour. Tips: This will take at least one hour. Don’t let it get too brown. Remember it will still be cooking in the oven too. Watch that the apples don’t stick. As the apples release their juices, baste them periodically with a spoon or turkey baster.
- Remove the pastry from the refrigerator when the apples are a deep gold and carefully place it over the apples, tucking it in at the edges as much as able.
- Place the skillet on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven until the pastry is golden – about 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, use a small knife to loosen the edges then invert the skillet onto a serving platter that’s slightly bigger than the skillet.
- Lift the skillet away. If any apples have stuck to it, just loosen them and gently reinsert them in their rightful place in the tart.
- Enjoy warm topped with whipped cream or cinnamon or vanilla ice cream.
Keywords: Tarte Tatin (French Apple Tart)