Baking my way through Baking Illustrated

Tarte Tatin

This recipe was originally printed in Baking Illustrated (pg. 217)

Yes, it’s French. If you pronounce it right, you’ll probably sound offish. But I think tarte Tatin can be quite the rustic, humble dessert. It’s just like an upside-down apple pie, and–dressed up with a dollop of your favorite topping–it’s well on its way to impressing your favorite guests.

Flaky Egg Pastry

1 1/3 cups (6 7/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg, cold, beaten

Caramelized Apples

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon sugar
6 large Granny Smith apples (about 3 pounds), peeled, quartered, and cored

Tangy Cream Topping

1 cup heavy cream, cold
1/2 cup sour cream, cold


1. For the Pastry: Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients; process until the mixture resembles cornmeal, 7 to 12 seconds. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl; add the egg an stir with a fork until little balls form. Press the balls together with the back of the fork, then gather the dough into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic, then flatten it into a 4-inch disk. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. (The dough can be refrigerated overnight; let stand at room temperature to warm slightly before rolling it out.)

2. Unwrap the dough and turn out onto a well-floured work surface. Sprinkle with additional flour. Starting from the disk center outward, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, strewing flour underneath to prevent sticking. Slide a lightly floured, rimless baking sheet or pizza peel under the crust, cover with plastic, and refrigerate while preparing the apples. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Side note: I hate making crust. Now, the fun part!

3. For the filling: Melt the butter in a 9-inch ovenproof skillet; remove from the heat and sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Following the illustrations on page 216, arrange the apples in the skillet by placing the first apple quarter, cut-side down and with an end touching the skillet wall. As you continue to arrange the apples, lift each quarter on its edge while placing the next apple quarter on its edge, so that the apple quarters stand straight up. Fill the skillet middle with the remaining quarters, placing them cut-side down.

Apple quarters simmering in butter and sugar

4. Return the skillet to high heat; cook until the juices turn from butterscotch to a rich amber color, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and, using a fork or the tip of a paring knife, turn the apples onto their uncaramelized sides. Return the skillet to the highest heat; boil to cook the uncaramelized sides of the apples, about 5 minutes longer.

Deliciously caramelized!

5. Remove the skillet from the heat. Slide the prepared dough from the baking sheet onto the apple filling and, taking care not to burn your fingers, tuck the dough edges gently up against the skillet wall.

Covering the apples with our crust

Taking a peek in the oven!

Eeeeeeeeeee! Looks amazing :)

6. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set the skillet on a wire rack; cool about 20 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife, place a serving plate on top of the skillet, and, holding the plate and skillet together firmly, invert the tart onto the serving plate. Scrape out any apples that stick to the skillet and put them back into place. (The tart can be kept for several hours at room temperature, but unmold it onto a dish that can withstand mild heat. Before serving, warm the tart for 10 minutes in 200-degree oven.)

The hard part is flipping it over and keeping everything intact.

7. For the topping: Beat the heavy cream and sour cream at medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer until the mixture thickens and holds soft but definite peaks. (The topping can be made a day ahead; cover and refrigerate.) Accompany each wedge of the tart with a generous dollop of topping.

The perfect combination of flavors, textures, and temperatures!

Notes: The original proportions to make the cream topping were about double what I ended up using, so I recommend halving. If you run out of cream topping, the dessert pairs just as beautifully with vanilla ice cream.

Equipment: Just one $15 cast-iron skillet!

This entry was posted in Baking Illustrated.

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