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One of the first times I heard about tarte tatin, the main character in a story thought it was just like an upside-down pineapple cake. Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t the same as that American classic, and took some different baking skills. To get a tarte tatin just right, the apples shouldn’t be soggy, the pastry should be flaky, and it shouldn’t be too sweet.
In the story, the bakers topped the caramel and apples with cake, but I’m being traditional and using pastry. The classic tarte tatin uses puff pastry, but that takes a long time to make from scratch! I’ve opted for rough puff pastry, since it’s a lot easier and quicker–and looks and tastes almost identical. Check out my illustrated step-by-step article on making rough puff pastry here. You can do it! 💪
Tarte tatin does take some practice to achieve perfectly, especially if you’re making your own pastry (which I highly recommend!). But, don’t worry! Success with this dessert is totally attainable for people who aren’t master pastry chefs, and it takes only a few basic ingredients. Even if it doesn’t come out perfect the first time, don’t be discouraged! Just call it a rustic apple tart. Plus, a generous dollop of crème fraîche can hide a multitude of errors! 😊 It’s just the thing to serve after a light supper of salade Niçoise and a crusty French baguette.Print
Tarte tatin is a classic French dessert with caramel and apples on a crispy golden rough puff pastry base. With this tasty recipe, you’ll learn how to bake a showstopping tarte tatin in a cast iron skillet.
- 1/2 batch rough puff pastry (10.5 oz / 300g)
- 2 large tart baking apples, such as Granny Smith
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup crème fraîche
Preparing the Pastry (5 minutes)
- Select an oven safe skillet about 8 or 9 inches in diameter and at least 2 inches deep. Heavy-bottomed stainless steel and well-seasoned cast iron are good choices.
- Roll out the chilled rough puff pastry about 1/8 inch thick. Cut a circle about 1 inch larger than the diameter of the skillet, using a plate to guide you.
- Prick the pastry circle in 10 places with a fork and chill on a metal cookie sheet in the fridge until needed.
Making the Caramel (35 minutes)
- Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Slice each quarter into four thick slices. Place the apple slices in a medium bowl and toss with the lemon juice until each slice is coated with the juice. Set aside.
- In the oven safe skillet, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat until slightly bubbly. Stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved and the mixture is boiling.
- Turn up the heat a little, then add the apples and cook until the caramel is a rich golden brown, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes. Watch the skillet carefully. If there’s too much sauce for the pan, ladle some of it out, then add it back in once the remaining sauce has reduced.
- As soon as the caramel is a good color, remove the skillet from the heat, arrange the apples in a circular pattern with a fork, and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F and pull out a large, heavy rimmed cookie sheet.
Assembling the Tarte Tatin (5 minutes + 20 minutes baking)
- Once the oven is preheated, press the chilled pastry circle on top of the caramel sauce. The extra pastry will just go up the sides of the skillet; don’t worry about trimming it since the pastry will shrink in the oven. Be careful not to touch the hot pan or caramel!
- Immediately put the skillet on the cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the caramel is bubbling around the edges.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the tarte. Place a plate on top of the skillet and carefully turn it over so the plate is on the bottom and the skillet is on top. Gently remove the skillet and reposition any apples that have moved.
- Serve the tarte tatin warm or at room temperature with a generous dollop of crème fraîche on each slice. Store leftover tarte tatin at room temperature.
- Pressed for time? Make your rough puff pastry the day before, or use store-bought puff pastry instead.
- When choosing a plate for the tarte tatin, make sure it has a bit of a lip to catch any drips of caramel sauce that may run off the tarte.