Named after the hotel that originally served it in 1888 as its signature dish, tarte Tatin is a pastry in which the fruit (usually apples) is caramelized in butter and sugar before the tart is baked. Although it originated in France, has spread to other countries like wildfire over the years.
There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of her restaurant’s cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside-down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests loved it.
Tarte Tatin – Caramelized Apple Tart
- Medium ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick
- 8 large Firm-fleshed apples (Braeburn, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp)
- 6 tbsp Salted butter, soft
- ⅔ cup light brown sugar
- 8 oz 1 sheet of frozen all-butter puff pastry
- Prep – Before cooking, prepare and refrigerate apples in a bowl. Slice the stem side off horizontally so they can stand flat. Peel and remove core. Quarter the apples vertically.
- Assemble – Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Thickly cover the bottom of a heavy ovenproof nonstick skillet with the butter. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the butter. Cut 1 piece of another apple into a thick round disk with a hole in the middle. Place in center of pan and arrange the apple quarters concentrically around it, standing on their flat end. Keep pieces overlapping each other and fill pan. Roll the pastry into a ⅛ thick square. Lay the pastry over the apples and cut off excess pastry going up the sides. Tuck ends into apples to secure them.
- Cook – Place skillet over medium-low heat and cook about 3 minutes until light brown juices are beginning to bubble up the edges. Increase heat to medium and continue cooking for 5-10 more minutes. Juices should be a darker brown and smell caramelized but not burned. Move pan to oven and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until puff pastry is browned and firm.
- Let cool 5 minutes. Turn out (invert) using a flat pot cover to flip pan upside-down and then slide off onto a round cake platter with pastry side under apples. Pry any apples that stuck to the pan and add to top. Cut into wedges and serve topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.