Tarte tatin - Two recipes for the classic French dessert made with apples and puff pastry.

tarte tatin
Some of the best recipes in the world were created 'by accident' or because the recipe that the cooks were originally making went wrong, and tarte tatin, this now famed French classic, is also one of them!

According to the story, in around 1880 in a town just south of Paris, one of the Tatin sisters was overworked in the kitchen and was making an apple pie. She left the apples cooking for too long, began to smell burning and then tried to salvage the dish by laying the pastry over the top of the cooking pan and quickly finishing it off in the oven. Her quick thinking proved to be a success with the guests, who complimented the sisters on the dessert, and thus the tarte tatin was created.

Essentially, the tarte tatin is an upside-down tart made from crisp puff pastry containing soft fruit - generally apples - that have been caramelised in butter and sugar.

Over the years the recipe has been modified and elaborated upon, and nowadays other fruits can substitute the apples, including pears, peaches, prunes, quince and apricots. However, the tarte tatin made with apples will undoubtedly stand the test of time as the most popular fruit that you can use in this French classic dessert.
In the original recipe, apples were cut in half and cooked on the stove but some modern recipes call for sliced or small chunks of apples. You can use a mixture of sweet and acidic apples, with Granny Smith's and Cox's being the most popular.

This delicious dessert can be served on its own but is best served with a generous helping of ice cream, crème fraîche, custard, or whipping cream.

Try our recipes below and see which one you prefer.

Tarte Tatin recipe

  • 500g (1.1lb) of puff pastry
  • 4-6 dessert apples (Cox, Granny Smith), peeled, cored and cut into wedges
  • 115g (4oz) of caster sugar
  • 115g (4oz) of butter
  • ¼ of a lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy-duty ovenproof pan.
  3. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter.
  4. Place the apple pieces onto the butter and sugar, packing them in as tightly as possible.
  5. Cook over a gentle-medium heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top and turn the apples halfway through cooking.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
  8. Roll out the pastry to an inch wider than the pan.
  9. Lay the pastry over the top of the pan and press the edges down over the sides.
  10. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven, leave to sit for 10 minutes and then turn the tarte tatin out onto a serving plate.

Alcohol-infused tarte tatin recipe

  • 500g (1.1lb) of puff pastry
  • 800g (1.8lb) of apples, peeled, cored and halved
  • 115g (4oz) of caster sugar
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) of Calvados
  • 55g (2oz) of butter, cubed
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways with seeds removed
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
  2. Place an ovenproof pan over a medium heat and dissolve the sugar into the Calvados.
  3. Add the vanilla seeds and the pod. Stir.
  4. Once the caramel has formed and browned, add the apple halves.
  5. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the butter.
  7. Roll out the pastry to slightly larger than the pan and lay the pastry over the top, firming the edges down the sides.
  8. Place into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The pastry should be golden brown in colour.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so. This is because the caramel is extremely hot and could burn when you turn the tarte out.
  10. Once cooled slightly, take a large plate or serving dish and hold it over the pan. Carefully invert the pan so that the tarte tatin slides into the serving dish.
  11. Serve with your favourite accompaniment including double cream, ice cream or custard.

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