Frenchitude Lesson #15: Make Tarte Tatin

About a month ago I decided that the fact that I live in France, love baking, love apples, and had never yet attempted a Tarte Tatin – the uniquitous French apple upside-down cake – was simply too ridiculous. It had to change.

So off I embarked on an attempt to fine-tune the perfect tarte tatin recipe. Truth be told all the attempts were pretty darn delicious – how bad can the combination of apples, butter, sugar, and vanilla possibly be? – and were gobbled up by myself and my family before I could even snap a photo.

However, I was still not satisfaite. There was a bit too much caramel and I didn’t taste the apple flavour distinctly enough. Also my pastry was a bit bland – I figured using salted butter would help with that, and as you will see below, j’avais bien raison.

I kept fiddling around until this Sunday I hit on tarte tatin nirvana. Here is my recipe, that I have now included in the oeuvre in progress that is my recipe binder;

– half of Charlotte’s Pâte Brisée recipe made with salted or half-salted butter

– 5 to 7 cooking apples, I swear by “Goldens

– 1/4 of a cup of salted or half-salted butter

– 1/2 of a cup of regular white sugar with a package of vanilla sugar OR teaspoon of vanilla extract


– Peel and cut up apples into quarters, remove core

– In a skillet on element, or in proper tarte tatin dish is you have one (but I don’t, I never seem to have the right equipment as I go through life), melt butter over medium to medium-high heat.

– When butter is bubbling nicely, sprinkle sugar, vanilla sugar OR vanilla extract over butter. Using a wooden spoon or spatula stir together (still over medium to medium – high heat) until they start to become golden – about 3 minutes.

-Place apple chunks on caramel mixture. Careful for splatters – caramel is VERY hot.

-Turn heat down to medium / medium-low so that it is just bubbling. Let bubble away for about 15-20 minutes, turning apples occasionally so that caramel coverage is maximized.

-During this time on floured surface roll out pastry in a circle about half an inch in diameter bigger than the round cake pan where you are going to transfer apple caramel mixture and cook tarte tatin, OR half an inch in diameter bigger than your bona fide tarte tatin pan if you are using one (pssst…is your name Martha by any chance?).

– If not using a tarte tatin pan (i.e. me) using wooden spoon or spatula transfer bubbling caramel and apple mixture (again, carefully) to buttered round cake pan. With spoon arrange apples in the closest fit possible. Leave five to ten minutes to cool, then lie pastry circle over the apple mixture and tuck in firmly underneath apples around the edges. It will look something like this;

– If your name is Martha and you are using a tarte tatin pan just do the same thing with the pastry directly in the pan.

– Pop confection into preheated oven at about 400-425 degrees (205-215 Celsius) and let cook for 25 minutes or so until pastry on top is golden brown (but not dark brown).

– Take it out, and on to flat wooden board or largish plate FLIP your cake on it so apple side is now looking up.

Voilà! You have now made the Frenchest of French desserts, the divine tarte tatin – the delicious french upside down apple cake. It tastes the best, as with so many things in life, served with really good quality vanilla ice cream.

This is what mine looked like when I brought it back in the kitchen after serving it. YUM!

**Frenchitude Fridays (French + Attitude = Frenchitude) give ideas for injecting a bit of frenchness into your life, whether you live in Dawson City or Dole.