Bakery, Desserts, Pies, Tarts & Pastries, Puff Pastry

Tarte Tatin

0 Comments 07 October 2011

This week is sort of a Variation on Pies Week. First we did some cute little pie pops, and now we’ve studied the Tarte Tatin. And by studied, I do mean ate zealously.

Looking through recipes as much as we have over the last year or so, and perusing way too many wonderful food blogs, we’d of course seen and heard plenty about this interesting-looking tart, but we didn’t realize it came to be via a cooking mistake made by Stephanie Tatin. Over a hundred years ago. That mistaken method created a sensational dessert option that is still very much a popular inspiration today. How cool is that? We raise our forks to you, Stephanie.

Tarte Tatin 15

Apples seem to be the traditional main ingredient for this dessert, and the one we used from Gourmet calls for Galas. We love them. They’re juicy, sweet and crunchy. They’re just perfect for this!

Pie Pops & Tarte Tatin 15

The first step is to roll out slightly and cut the puff pastry. I gotta say, it does my heart good to see something pre-made being used for this. I don’t have time to make puff pastry. I doubt I will ever make it for kicks (unless I enroll in some fancy pastry class one day). Thank you, Grocery Store Freezer Section! Thanks for taking care of us slackers.

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Oh yes, you get to get all up in this recipe. It’s very hands on, as you can see. The butter has to be spread thickly onto the pan, so I went hand done all the way.

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Next step: sprinkle the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Uh, how do you get it as close to even as possible? Shake just a slight amount on the bottom, then dump the rest in and shake the pan a little till it looks to be covering the bottom evenly. the first bit will coat the butter, leaving the rest free to slip and slide the way you arrange it.

Now, it took me till looking back at our pictures to realize that we used a whole quarter cup less sugar than the recipe called for. Doh! I didn’t realize at the time I wasn’t holding a half cup, but a quarter cup measure instead. Know what? The tatin tasted grrreeaaaat with only a quarter cup of sugar! A half cup would have been too much. Galas are pretty sweet apples and I was glad we made our own mistake because it turned out so dang good.

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Here’s where my cooking artistry packed its bags, flew to Tahiti and left me in the lurch. The recipe called for lining up the apple slices vertically.

Say what? What does that mean? So….we tried. And while it didn’t come out too bad, really you can try just about any way of arranging the apples you’d like. There’s no right or wrong way, I believe, to arrange them for this dessert.

Pie Pops & Tarte Tatin 12

For example, take our method, which quickly became: forget about stacking these mofos in anything resembling an artistic fashion. Just get the heck on in their, apples! Cuz, like, it’s time to cook you. And you’re not stacking anymore, so…yeah.

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Guess what you get to do now? Cook these things! The recipe says to cook them on the stove top for a bit and to not “disturb” them. I asked sis blogging partner, how would you even begin to disturb these anyway? If you did they’d all end up on the stovetop. I know, I know, snark snark. The point is, just let them simmer. Do not worry when the bubblies bubble forthtastically. The apples are doing their thing and that thing is good.

Then you put them in the oven and they come out (like pictured above) all at peace with their lot in life. Because they are hot and maybe just a little subdued from said heat. But don’t worry, you’ll like the results of what’s been doing on the bottom of that pan.

By the way, I’m sure you’ve noticed that our pan is not cast iron, as the original recipe calls for. I didn’t have one in the right size. My regular nonstick, oven-safe saute pan worked great.

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Now your apples can has a blankie! Lay that puff pastry round you cut earlier, which has been chillin’ like the most in the fridge, right over the apples.

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Bake it till the apple blankie looks like this! The true test of your cooking skills is about to commence after this cools a little.

Can you flip this thing out of the pan and onto your serving platter successfully? Drum roll please….

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Tada! Sis blogging partner totally did it! You can do it. You will do it.

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At first the recipe seemed a little plain jane to us. We were going to add a little cinnamon, maybe some apple brandy to kick things up a little. Honestly, though, I’m glad we didn’t. While I do think a quarter cup of sugar was just right, the original recipe is pretty spot on.

If you’re already an American apple pie lover, I’m betting you’ll love this French version, too. The apples cooked down perfectly – fork tender and just the right amount of sweetness, neither too much or too little. Their golden hue is so pretty. The puff pastry lends the right amount of savory to the dessert, being substantial enough to house the apples without trying to take away from their star quality in the dish.

I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this as an alternative at Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other Fall or Winter event. Heck, any time of year I could get the apples, which is pretty much year round now. Bon appétit!

Tarte Tatin

slightly adapted from Gourmet, March 2001 by Shelley Wiseman

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes    Level: Easy    Serves: 8

  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-oz package), thawed
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 to 9 Gala apples (3 to 4 lb), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Roll pastry sheet into a 101/2-inch square on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin. Brush off excess flour and cut out a round with a sharp knife large enough to slightly overlap pan, using the pan as a guide. Transfer round to a baking sheet and chill. Spread butter thickly on bottom and side of skillet and pour sugar evenly over bottom. Arrange as many apples as will fit vertically on sugar, packing them tightly in concentric circles . Apples will stick up above rim of skillet. Cook apples over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until juices are deep golden and bubbling, 18 to 25 minutes. (Don’t worry if juices color unevenly.) Put skillet in middle of oven over a piece of foil to catch any drips. Bake 20 minutes (apples will settle slightly), then remove from oven and lay pastry round over apples. Bake tart until pastry is browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rack and cool at least 10 minutes. Just before serving, invert a platter with lip over skillet and, using potholders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto platter. Replace any apples that stick to skillet. (Don’t worry if there are black spots; they won’t affect the flavor of the tart.) Brush any excess caramel from skillet over apples. Serve immediately.
Cooks’ Note: Tart can cool in skillet up to 30 minutes. It can also stand, uncovered, up to 5 hours, then be heated over moderately low heat 1 to 2 minutes to loosen caramel. Shake skillet gently to loosen tart before inverting.


I debated a bit on whether to classify this recipe as easy or more intermediate in terms of difficulty. Honestly, the only part that might be difficult for some is how to arrange the apples. Considering we ended up just shoving them in….I say easy.

Once again, if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, but you do have an oven-safe saute pan or skillet? Just use the latter instead. My saute pan has two inch sides, and this seemed to help house all those apple slices quite nicely.

When you slice into this thing, the apples may want to topple a little and slide apart. That’s OK. Just put those onto whatever plate they were meant for.

This tasted so good that I even enjoyed it cold the next day. For breakfast. As a between meals snack. An actual dessert again later. You get the idea. It heats up pretty well in the microwave. It’s damn near perfection.

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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