Sep 26

A delicious mistake: Tarte Tatin

in Dessert, French, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type

Over the past couple of weeks when I’ve gone to my parents house I make sure to pick a bag of apples to take home with me, as their trees are currently laden down with fruit, and nothing is better than homegrown produce! I recently came home with a particularly bulging sack of apples and decided to make sure that none of that yummy tart fruit was wasted by making a tarte tatin.
Stories say that the tarte tatin was born out of a mistake. The most popular story is that of 2 sisters, Stéphanie (the oldest) and Caroline (the youngest), who ran the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France. Stéphanie was in charge of the cooking and her specialty was an apple tarte (tarte aux pommes). One day during hunting season she was distracted and prepared the tarte totally upsidedown with apples and caramel on bottom and crust on top. When it came out of the oven, she flipped it (so the crust was on bottom) and served it before it had time to cool, et voila! Tarte tatin! What a delicious mistake I must say.

In the supposed original recipe, the instructions tell you to put the butter, sugar, and cut apples in the tarte pan and start caramelizing everything together on the stove before it ever goes into the oven. I have done it this way in the past, and then I read a post by Zen Chef on his blog Chefs Gone Wild that made me rethink this method. In Zen Chef’s recipe he makes the caramel first, then pours it into the pan, adds the apples, and throws it into the oven, thereby skipping the step of caramelizing the apples on the stove. I decided to give it a go and it was SO much easier! With Zen Chef’s method there is less risk of getting a caramel that is too dark. Instead you get a caramel that is the perfect color and has a wonderfully smooth consistency. Although I will still go back to the traditional tarte tatin method occasionally, I will also definitely keep this method in my pocket as I found it to be faster! I’m not going to post the recipe here, as you’ve really got to go and read Zen Chef’s description, it’s very entertaining.
Although Zen Chef’s recipe calls for puff pastry to be used for the crust, the “original recipe” says that both pâte feuilleté (puff pastry) and pâte brisée (standard pie and pastry dough) could be used. I was more in the mood for a flaky pâte brisée, so that’s what I used! The only other change I would make to this recipe in the future, would be to shorten the cooking time before adding the crust. I think I would decrease this cooking time to 45 minutes, as I like my apples to be a bit firmer–they were very soft.

This is a great recipe from Jacques Pepin if you are interested in making your tarte with a pâte brisée, or if you would prefer to use shortening instead of butter, I use this recipe that I got from my mom a lot as well:

Basic Pie Dough
makes enough for a single crust

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
4-5 Tbsp. cold water

1. Stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening with pastry blade or with two knives until pieces are the size of small peas.

2. Sprinkle water over, one tablespoon at a time, tossing mixture after each addition. DO NOT OVERWORK! Form into ball. (Optional: wrap dough in saran wrap and refrigerate 1/2-3 hrs.)

3. Flatten dough onto lightly floured surface. Roll 1/8-inch thick from center to edge.

4. Use spatula to fold into fourths; lift and place in ungreased pie pan (or in this case, arrange over the top of the apples, and tuck the sides of the dough down into the pan).

5. If using this dough for a regular pie, you would then cut the dough about 1/2-inch from the outside edge of the pie pan. Fold under and crimp edges. Fill and bake.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Reeni September 26, 2008 at 4:04 pm

It looks so yummy! I love your story about the sisters!


Hello Sweety September 26, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Mm mmm. Now I’ve feasted my eyes on your tart it’s definitely time to get my muesli together for breakfast.



haleysuzanne September 26, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Oh, this looks tasty and easy. I love tarts, both savory and sweet – and I will have to try this!


Jen September 26, 2008 at 11:21 pm

MMMMMM! YOu’ve been tagged, check out my blog for details. :)


Phoe September 27, 2008 at 8:19 am

Mmmm… now I want a tarte tatin. :)


Jolinda February 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Where’s the recipe for Tarte Tatin…is it ME…am I missing something OH so obvious??


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