How to Make Tarte Tatin

This elegant French classic is easy to make and delicious to eat… the perfect seasonal combination of caramelised apples and crumbly sweet pastry, it’s a dinner party sensation. Here’s how to make it yourself.

About Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin is 100 years old. Created in France in 1898, it was the fortunate result of a chef’s over-browned tart filling. It’s said that Stephanie Tatin hastily covered her browned apples with pastry to protect them from the oven heat, and the results went down well with her restaurant customers! You can make Tarte Tatin using shop-bought Sweet Shortcrust Pastry, but it’s easy to make your own. Here are a few important tips:

  • Don’t substitute the apples for cooking apples: it’s essential to use normal eating apples, as cooking apples (like Bramleys) melt down and turn to mush during cooking.
  • Keep a very close eye on the apples during the caramelisation process. The sugar burns very easily and though you want a deep, rich colour, overcooking will make it bitter.
  • If you don’t have an ovenproof sauté pan, you can still make Tarte Tatin in a porcelain flan dish. Just cook the apples as instructed below, then arrange them neatly in your flan dish and cover with the pastry. Put a baking sheet in the oven to preheat, and slide the flan dish directly onto that to improve heat conduction.

Making Tarte Tatin

Give this classic a try – we think it deserves a revival!

You Will Need:

  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • 85g (3½ oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Ice-cold water
  • 8 dessert apples
  • 75g (3oz) unsalted butter
  • 110g (4oz) caster sugar

In a large bowl, rub together the flour and butter to form coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in the salt and make a well in the middle. Tip in the beaten egg plus a spoonful of water and, using the tips of your fingers, start to work the liquid into the flour. Add more water, bit by bit, until the pastry dough is just coming together. Then gather it into a round, wrap in clingfilm, and put into the fridge for at least half an hour. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.

Meanwhile, prepare the apples. Peel, core and slice them, then toss with a little lemon juice. Put the butter into a wide frying pan and sprinkle the sugar over evenly. Now arrange the apples neatly in circles on top. Return to the heat and set to high until the butter and sugar start to caramelise on the bottom of the pan – this will take 5 minutes or more. When the apples are starting to get quite dark, take the pan off the heat.

Roll out the pastry to cover the apples and lift it onto your rolling pin, then transfer it to the pan, carefully laying it over the apples and tucking in the edges (watch your fingers). If your pan isn’t oven proof, see our advice on using a flan dish, above.

Put the pan directly into the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Cool for a while before serving.

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