Traditional Tarte Tatin
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • 10 medium apples
  • 6 tablespoons (80 grams) unsalted butter, set out to soften
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 sheet of butter pastry dough (store bought is easier, or you can make your own dough)
  1. Prepare the apples: slice off the bottom of each apple so it has a flat base. Peel then halve them. Use a small sharp knife to trim cores from the center of each half. If you have a melon baller, that will work too. If preparing the day before, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, lightly covered.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375F / 190C (350F if using convection). Sprinkle sugar evenly on the bottom of the pan. Lay the cut butter evenly over the sugar.
  3. Take two halves and place them in the center of the skillet. This serves as the center. Arrange the remaining apple halves, each one standing on its flat end, in concentric circles around the center apple. Keep the pieces close together so that they support one another, standing upright. Bottom line, place them as snugly as possible however they fit well. You might have to cut a few pieces of extra apples into pieces to fill in and help the snug fit.
  4. Place the fry pan over medium-low to low heat and cook the apples in the butter and sugar, uncovered, until the sugar turns golden brown and the apples get a little softer and turn light golden; this will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Watch the apples closely to make sure they don’t stick; adjust the heat now and then, to slow down or speed up the cooking. As the apples give up some of their juices into the liquid sugar and butter mixture you can baste them occasionally with a baster if you want- optional. The sugar will slowly caramelize the apples almost all the way, but they’ll remain less cooked on top.
  5. Timing? When the cooking liquid thickens and is deep golden and the apples are nearly cooked through, remove the pastry sheet from the refrigerator; quickly and evenly place it over the apples, gently tucking it down the sides of the pan around them.
  6. ⇒If your store-bought pastry dough is round, you may have to cut it to be ¾- to 1-inch larger than the top of the fry pay you use to cook the apples. Drape it gently over the apples, tucking it down the sides of the fry pan. It’s OK if it seems you are tucking more dough on one side than another.
  7. ⇒If your store-bought pastry dough is square, put an upside-down bowl or another 10-inch fry pan on the dough and use the tip of a sharp knife to cut out a circle ¾- to 1-inch larger than the top of the fry pay you use to cook the apples. Lift the circle and drape gently over the apples per above instructions.
  8. Cut two small slits in the dough for the air to escape while baking.
  9. Place the fry pan on a baking sheet; bake in the center of the oven until the pastry is golden- check at 20 minutes, it may take up to 30 minutes. It’s OK if the juices bubble over. Depending on the apple variety, the tart will be more juicy or less juicy.
  10. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes; carefully run a spatula around the pan too loosen any stuck parts; place a serving plate over the top then carefully flip the pan over. If any apples remain stuck in the pan, use your fingers or a spatula to retrieve them and place on the pastry. Cut as you would a pie, and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or in a shallow bowl on top of Crème Anglaise (recipe link below). A few pieces of mint placed on the ice cream or next to the tart is a nice flavor addition.
Recipe by Savor the Harvest at