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A Very Happy Accident – Tarte Tatin

Thursday 4 Jan 2018 / Category: French Recipes & more!

Is there anything more heart-warming than a warm slice of Tarte Tatin, France’s golden ‘upside down’ apple tart? We think not. But did you know that this classic dish was created in the 1880s – completely by accident?

Once upon a time, the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron (around 100 miles south of Paris) was run by the Tatin sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline. Stéphanie was also the resident chef, and legend has it that one day – overworked in her kitchen – she left the apples for a traditional apple pie cooking too long in sugar and butter. Smelling disaster, she attempted to rescue the dish by covering the apples in pastry, then sliding the whole pan into the oven to bake. When she flipped over the finished tart onto a dish, she hastily served it to her waiting guests in the hope they would be satisfied…..little did she know just how delighted they would be!

Today, this comforting upside-down apple tart is a staple of the French Pastry repertoire, and an absolute favourite in our kitchens here at La Cuisine Paris. But we thought it only fair that the recipe be shared with our La Cuisine family, so you can bring a little of Stéphanie Tatin’s happy accident into your kitchens at home. Naturally, you'll find as many variations of Tarte Tatin as you will people you ask - all influenced by their backgrounds, families and tastes! So here is one for you to play with and make it to your own tastes - our recipe for the perfectly golden Tarte Tatin. Happy Baking! 

Tarte Tatin

Serves 6

Pastry Dough

120 g butter

100 g sugar

1 egg

250 g flour


50 g butter

25 g sugar

1 vanilla bean


1,5 kg apples (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith)

50 g butter

25 g sugar


1 Tart dish, 30 cm

Preheat your oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6

To make the pastry dough

-       In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.

-       Add the egg and mix.

-       Add the flour, then lightly mix the dough before kneading with your hands until all the flour is completely incorporated and you have a ball of dough.

-       Roll the dough out into a circle large enough for your tart mould, then place it on a tray or a sheet of baking paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Tarte Tatin Time!

-       Place the butter and sugar in a pan and cook on a medium heat until golden – don’t stir the caramel, as this will cause the sugar to crystallise. When the caramel has a syrupy texture and is a deep golden colour, pour it into the tart mould.

-       Peel the apples, then cut them into quarters or large slices.

-       Heat the remaining butter and sugar in a large pan, then split the vanilla bean and add in the seeds. Add the apples and cook for 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

-       Arrange the apple slices in your mould, on top of the caramel, making an outer ring first before fillling in the center. 

-       Top the apples with 5 small pieces of butter and sprinkle with 3 teaspoons of sugar.

-       Bake the apples in the tart dish for 20 minutes at 200 °C.

-       Roll out your dough, then remove the apples from the oven after their 20 minutes’ baking time and place the dough over the apples. Cut a small chimney in the center or use a pie funnel so the steam can escape.

-       Return the tart dish to the oven for 25 – 30 minutes at 200 °C.

-       Remove from the oven and immediately turn the mold upside-down on to a large dish.

Et voilà! Serve warm with a spoonful of crème fraîche or Chantilly cream – accompanied by a glass of Normandy Cider or Calvados!

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