22 June 2010


TARTE TATIN: an upside down apple pie – but why?

Rumour has it that French Tatin sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline had a small crisis in the kitchen….The result: a traditional apple tart served upside-down. Whatever the truth, this ranks among one of my favourite desserts – the pastry on top stays golden and crispy, while the apples caramelise below.

We christened my father’s Emile Henry tatin set the last time I was in Provence. This one ceramic dish does everything: first make the caramel directly on the stove top using butter and sugar, add the apple slices, cover with pastry and bake until golden brown. When done, the tarte tatin turns out easily onto the matching plate.

Caramel: Getting the caramel recipe to work can take a little practice, click on the link ‘Tarte Tatin‘ below for more on this and the tarte tatin recipe:

ERIKA ALLISTON: Tarte Tatin Recipe


  • 170g white flour
  • 80g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Combine four, salt & sugar
  2. Add butter, mix with fingers until looks like bread crumbs
  3. Add egg and mix till a smooth ball forms
  4. Chill for 30 minutes


  • 170g white sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter


  • 6 small cooking apples (ie Russets), peeled & cut into 6es
  • 30g white sugar
  • 30g unsalted butter
  1. On the hob/stove top, melt 170g white sugar
  2. When the sugar is JUST melted and a light golden colour, remove from the heat – do this earlier than later as the hot pan will continue to cook the sugar when off the heat!**
  3. Add 50g butter, mix till forms a smooth caramel. There is always a little butter that won’t fully mix in.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F
  5. Place the apple pieces evenly around the dish.
  6. Sprinkle with 30g sugar + place small cubes of butter around the apples
  7. Cover with pastry, tuck in the corners
  8. Bake for 40 minutes
  9. Remove and LET SIT for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a plate

**As we are among friends I will tell you that my 1st attempt at making the caramel was a disaster… I burned the sugar, not removing it from the heat in time. My 2nd attempt was slightly better, I tried adding water to melt the sugar, but it just evaporated. They say 3 times a charm and it was – just watch the heat and remove the golden sugar a few minutes before you think it’s done!


6 Responses to “TARTE TATIN”

  1. Tes Says:

    This recipe seems so amazing. It sounds simple and delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Anh Says:

    This looks and sounds amazing!

  3. diana singer Says:

    Tarte tatin has always been my favorite fruit dessert. I’ve made it about 7 times; the second time, I chose the wrong type of apples and I wound up with applesauce tarte tatin. What I find different in your recipe is that you don’t have to cook the apples in the caramel prior to putting it in the en. Often the simplest-sounding things are the toughest to make; in this case, you can screw up the caramel, you can overcook the apples, it can leak over the sides, you can leave it in the pan too long and you can’t unmold it….I will try this recipe and hope it’s the most successful one I’ve found.

    • Hi Diana,
      Small, firm cooking apples (ie Russets) seem to work best and not cooking them in advance helps to keep their shape. As for the caramel, getting the heat just right is delicate – letting the tart sit for 10 minutes before turning it onto a plate helps avoid caramel leakage.
      Let me know how it turns out and any suggestions.

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