Apple Tarte Tatin

I’ve always wanted to make a tarte tatin.  Well, sort of.  You see, I’m not a fussy baker.  I don’t have the patience to make overly complicated pastries, but I love making homey, rustic pies, cakes, etc.  The tarte tatin is anything but rustic.  If you’ve ever seen a photo of a traditional tarte tatin, it is beautiful in the artistry of thinly sliced apples fanned out in perfect symmetry atop the golden shortbread crust, and all of this is covered with that gorgeous mahogany caramel.  Flippin’ intimidating, I tell you! 

That is, until I saw Anne Burrell make this version on her show (Secrets of a Restaurant Chef).  Rather than the painstaking slicing and perfect placing of the apple, she just quartered the apples, threw them in the caramel (OK, she placed them nicely), cooked them briefly and topped that with a very easy-to-make shortbread crust before baking.  After it cools, it all gets flipped over onto a serving platter. 

 I honestly couldn’t believe how easy it was to put this together.  Yes, you are required to make caramel from sugar, cider and lemon juice, but if you’re paying attention, it’s not hard at all….and I’m pretty sureyou can quarter an apple.  The crust goes together in a snap in the food processor, so the intimidation factor is almost completely eliminated.  I used a 10" Calphalon braiser, and only used 3 1/2 of the 6 apples called for.  I'm thinking that different baking pans will require more or fewer apples, so go ahead and slice the six and see what you need.

And then you get to eat it.  Oh my goodness gracious.  Is this ever good.  Caramel, apple and that shortbread-y crust are just heaven together.  I must tell you (knowing you will not judge) that my Taster-in-Chief and I ate half of this in one sitting.  It’s that good.  Oh, did I mention that I topped each slice with a little dollop of crème fraiche?  There are no words, just the low moan of remembered deliciousness.

If you already know and love tarte tatin, and are looking for a very approachable version to make for yourself, this here is your ticket to glory.  Bon apetit!

Apple Tarte Tatin

Printable Recipe

Adaptedfrom Anne Burrell

For the crust:

  • 1 stick butter, cut into pea size pieces

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • Pinch salt

  • 1 lemon, zested

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup apple cider

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

  • 1 stick butter, cut into pats

  • 6 Godlen Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered

  • Creme Fraiche for garnish


To make the crust: In a food processor combine the butter, flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Pulse until it looks like finely grated Parmigiano. Add the egg yolk and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the water. Pulse, pulse, pulse until the mixture comes together. If it seems a bit dry add a little more water and pulse, pulse, pulse. The mixture should come together into a ball. Dump the whole thing out onto a clean lightly floured work surface. Knead the mixture 1 or 2 times only to make it a smooth ball. Using a rolling pin or your fingers roll or press the dough out to an even circle about 11 to 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight, covered with plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

To make the filling: While dough is chilling, place the sugar, apple cider, lemon juice, and vanilla bean seeds in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof pan. Stir to combine. Over high heat bring the mixture to a boil brushing down the sides of the pan occasionally with a pastry brush dipped in water, if necessary. After 6 to 7 minutes the mixture will eventually begin to turn light brown. Swish the pan around gently to promote even cooking. Cook the mixture for another minute or so until the mixture becomes a much deeper amber color. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, 2 pats at a time. The mixture will bubble up. That is okay, just be VERY CAREFUL not to get any of this on you. When all of the butter has been incorporated, begin to arrange the apples rounded side down in circles. Try to do this neatly and in a pretty way. Remember, the bottom will be the top!

Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Retrieve the chilled pastry from the refrigerator and place it on top of the apples. Tuck the pastry in around the edges of the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and crispy. Let the tart cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Place a serving platter upside down on top of the pastry and CAREFULLY flip the platter and the pan over. Let the tart fall gently out of the pan.

Slice tart into individual pieces and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche.