• Chef Michelle

Apple Tarte Tatin

As a pastry chef, I get a little nervous when I hear “dessert” and “accident” in the same sentence. But in the case of the Tarte Tatin, a baking oversight gave rise to a truly iconic confection! The story (one of them, anyway) goes like this:

Le Dessert du Jour

At the turn of the 20th Century, two sisters named Stephanie and Caroline Tatin were running a busy hotel just outside of Paris. One fine day, Stephanie was preparing a delicious apple tart for the hotel guests. She artfully arranged the apples into the tart pan, only to realize she had forgotten the pastry underneath! Not wanting to waste the apples or the effort, she lay the pastry crust over the apples and baked them anyway. Once the crust was golden brown, Mademe Tatin popped it out of the oven and flipped it over, revealing a beautifully soft and caramelized apple filling. She served her new “accidental” dessert with finesse (and a dollop of crème fraîche) - and no one was the wiser!

La Pomme: It’s French for “Apple”

History tells us that the original recipe for called for Reine des Reinettes and Calville apples. You probably won’t find these in your local grocery store, so it is important to choose an apple variety that will hold its shape while cooking. I first prepared this recipe using a soft apple variety, and instead of a Tarte Tatin, I wound up with le applesauce. Now that was a dessert accident (still delicious, though)! Anyway, as a result, I recommend using a traditional tart baking apple such as Granny Smith or McIntosh. When it comes to the crust, the Tarte Tatin originally was made with a shortcrust pastry, but it can just as easily be made using a puff pastry as a substitute.

Pastry Components:

Pâte Sucrée Recipe - prepared and stored in refrigerator until ready for use

Crème Fraîche Recipe, prepared and stored in refrigerator until ready for use

Apple Tarte Tatin Recipe

Additional variations to the recipe include:

Using pears instead of apples

Adding cinnamon and spices to the caramel

Topping with ice cream or whipped cream

Pâte Sucrée Recipe | Yield: 2 - 10" crusts


  • 2 cups (240g) All-purpose Flour

  • 3/4 cup (170g) Unsalted Butter, cold, cubed

  • 1/2 cup (100g) Granulated Sugar

  • ½ teaspoon (2.5g) Vanilla Bean Paste

  • 1 (50g) Egg

To make a pâte sucrée… We typically begin by beating sugar and butter together until they are light and creamy (a.k.a. The Creaming Method). Now, I must admit I actually prefer to get my hands dirty with this one. I give the Kitchen-Aid a break and rub the flour, sugar and butter together with my fingers (a.k.a. The Rub-In Method). It’s up to you which method you choose - c’est à vous!

Preparation Steps:

Step 1:

Sift the flour, add the sugar and rub it together with the butter until it goes crumbly.

Step 2:

Make a well, add the vanilla and egg and work together quickly until it becomes a cohesive dough. (Do Not Overwork!)


Step 3:

Wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes before use.

Step 4:

Roll out to approximately 1/16” thickness and line pie pan. Trim edges and dock using a fork.

Step 5:

Bake according to your recipe.

Chef Notes:

Lemon zest can be added. This dough has a lower flour ratio and will have a buttery flavor with a softer texture. It will be harder to roll room temp so make sure to roll out while chilled. Wrapped well, this dough can also be stored in freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw before using.

(Oh look...my one egg was a double yolker!)

Crème Fraîche Recipe | Yield: 1 cup


  • 1 cup (240g) Heavy Whipping Cream

  • 2 tablespoons (30g) Buttermilk

Preparation Step:

Step 1:

Combine cream and buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.

Chef Notes:

Crème fraîche is the traditional topping to dollop on a Tarte Tatin. It's similar to sour cream, only not quite as zippy. You can sweeten it with a bit of sugar, but that's up to you. You can also use it in savory cooking to make sauces thick and creamy.

Apple Tarte Tatin Recipe and Assembly | (1) 8"-10" dessert


  • 6-8 Granny Smith Apples, medium size

  • 1 Lemon

  • 1 cup (200g) Granulated Sugar

  • 1/2 cup (113g) Unsalted Butter, room temperature

Preparation Steps:

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Step 2:

Peel and quarter apples, place in bowl. Toss apples with fresh squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning.

Step 3:

Bring sugar and butter to a low boil over medium-low heat in an oven safe pan. Do not stir once mixture begins to boil. Swirl pan to finish incorporating the butter and sugar together.

Step 4: Continue to cook sugar mixture until desired caramel color then remove from heat. Carefully arrange apple quarters in pattern beginning on the outside and working toward the center.

Step 5:

Return to heat, depending on size of your apples, continue to cook approximately 8-10 minutes or until just before done.

Step 6:

While apple mixture is cooking, remove your prepared Pâte sucrée from the refrigerator and roll out to less than 1/8" thickness. Cut dough approximately 1/2" larger than your pan. Place on a parchment lined baking tray, cover with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator.

Step 7:

Once apple mixture is done, remove from heat. Remove prepared Pâte sucrée from refrigerator and allow to soften while apples cool, about 5 minutes.

Step 8:

Place Pâte sucrée over top of apple mixture and tuck sides of dough around edge of pan creating a blanket effect over the apple mixture. Cut slits in center of dough to allow steam to escape during baking process.

Step 9:

Place entire pan on a baking tray to prevent any juice from bubbling out during baking and place in oven. Bake approximately 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before turning out onto serving dish with a lip.

Dollop with Crème Fraîche and serve!

Chef Notes:

Caution!! If you are turning out a Tarte Tatin for the first time or unsure about flipping the hot pan over please use caution and flip away from you or side ways so you do not accidentally pour hot glaze on your person.​

#recipe #frenchclassic #tartetatin #patesucree #cremefraiche #apple

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