Apple Tarte Tatin

For those of you who plan to crash one of my Thanksgiving dinners some day in the future, you should know in advance that there are no apple pies to be found at my Thanksgiving table.  Instead you will find apple tarte tatin.  It’s not that I don’t like apple pie, it’s just I like apple tarte tatin better.   It’s basically the French version of apple pie, and it’s an upside down tart baked in a skillet.  You make a vanilla bean caramel, saute some prettily arranged sliced apples in that caramel, top it with a crust, and bake it, until the apples have soaked up every last drop of the caramel goodness.  Then when you take it out of the oven, you let it cool slightly, invert, and devour.  The key here is to use a really good quality butter.  I always splurge for this and get a high quality European butter (and note how delicious the butter smells).  Here’s how to make it:

Makes one 10 inch tart, serves 8.

Crust Ingredients:
5 oz flour (1 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp ice water
Filling Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tbsp pieces
2 lbs of Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples (about 6 apples), cored and sliced into quarters, then each quarter sliced into quarters again

To make the crust, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest a couple times in a food processor to combine.  Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until it’s cut up into pea sized pieces.  Add the egg yolk and 2 tbsp of the ice water.  Pulse to distribute the liquid.

The mixture will look crumbly, but if you pinch it together and it holds, it’s ready.  If not, add another tbsp of ice water and pulse to distribute.  Dump the dough out on a big piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic wrap to shape the dough into a disk.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and preferably a couple hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the sugar, apple cider, lemon juice, and vanilla bean seeds in a 10 inch ovenproof pan, preferably nonstick (though I did an uncoated pan and didn’t have any sticking problems).  Turn the heat to medium high and watch carefully as the mixture begins to turn light brown (this should take about 5 minutes).  Swirl the pan to stir if needed, but don’t stir with a spoon.  Cook the mixture for another minute or two until it become a deep amber color (be careful not to burn it).  Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, 2 tbsp at a time.
Once the butter has been incorporated, start arranging the apple slices around in circles.  Try to arrange them in a visually appealing way.  Keep in mind that it will look like too many apples at first, but they cook down (as seen below):

Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and turn off the stove.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll the previously refrigerated dough out into a 10 inch circle (I actually like to do this between two pieces of wax or parchment paper because then it’s easy to plop onto the apples…just be sure to flour the paper just like you would any other work surface).

Place the chilled pastry crust on top of the apples, and tuck the pastry inside the frying pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the dough is golden brown.

Let the tart cool for 10 minutes, then place your serving platter on top of the pan, and invert.  If the tart doesn’t seem to want to come out, let it cool for 5 more minutes and try again.  Serve and enjoy!

Click here for the printable recipe.

Adapted from Anne Burrell’s Apple Tart Tatin.

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13 Responses to Apple Tarte Tatin

  1. alyssa says:

    Interesting to know that the butter quality makes a big difference. I’m not much of a fan of apple pie, but I would gladly have a slice of this. PS I love Anne Burrell’s recipes. I have several that I’ve adapted and some that were so good I didn’t need to change anything.

  2. I wouldn’t miss the pie at all. This looks fabulous!

  3. Caroline says:

    This looks fantastic, Joanne. I can just tell from the dough how amazing the crust must have been. The first photo is gorgeous!

  4. This looks beautiful, as usual, Joanne. I am solidly in the apple pie camp though — I like double crusts and I don’t want any sugar in a crust — none. Happy early Thanksgiving.

  5. That looks beautifully done. I’m off to Paris this weekend to catch up with friends and I can’t wait to order a tarte tatin. Yum!

  6. Nydia says:

    Tarte Tatin, the first time I ate it was in France, so you can imagine the taste of it, so now everytime I have one I can’t avoid to compare it. I never tried to make it at home, but now that I have the recipe tested by you, I will do it.

    • Joanne says:

      The first time I had it was in France too…and at the legendary Laduree of all places. To be honest, this isn’t as good as Laduree’s, but achieving their level is almost impossible. There’s a reason they are considered one of the best patisseries in the world!!! But don’t get me wrong, this tart tatin is still super delicious and definitely worth making!

  7. I have never had a Tarte Tatin before, but I really want to find a time to make one now. This looks gorgeous!

  8. Beautiful execution! Did you have any struggles getting the pie to come out of the pan? For me that is the most stressful part after all of that hard work. Take Care

    • Joanne says:

      I had absolutely no issues! Isn’t that amazing? I was worried because I used an uncoated pan and most people do them in nonstick pans. I did a stainless steel frying pan and I didn’t have a single apple stick. The photo I took of this is right after I inverted it…I cut a big piece out to show the detail, and it just looked beautiful. I agree, it is stressful!!!

  9. Ann says:

    Absolutely stunning! I have NO problem with skipping the apple pie for this beauty!

  10. rsmacaalay says:

    Mmmmmm, I can just imagine the smell of those freshly baked

  11. Ellen says:

    Thanks for another awesome recipe! I have celiac disease, so I thought I would try a rice flour crust version and used a whole egg instead of just the yolk so it would still bind ok without the gluten. Total success! Everyone loved it and it was the first dessert to go on Thanksgiving. And no one even noticed it was gluten-free!

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