Apple Tatin

finished tart

Here is a great fall dessert – a classic apple tarte tatin. This delicious caramelized apple creation was invented by the Demoiselles Tatin in their restaurant at Lamotte-Beuvron on the Loire River (Thank you to the late Julia Child for this information!)

It’s a caramelized sliced apple oven-baked in a skillet creation with the pastry on top when it is done. You will carefully flip the cast iron pan after baking so the top “crust” becomes the bottom. I used Granny Smith apples for this recipe but any good firm baking apple will do. If you are in Door County, visit any one of our many farm markets to pick up some homegrown apples.

Note: The apple tatin in the photos was made in a large 12-inch skillet for our restaurant. Most home cooks will use an 8 or 10 inch skillet which is what the recipe has been written for.


  • 8 firm baking apples
  • (peeled, cored and quartered)
  • grated rind and juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • You can purchase frozen puff pastry dough in most grocery stores. Remove and thaw dough according to instructions. You may need to thaw, unfold and slightly roll out the dough depending on the brand.
  • one 8 inch cast iron frying panĀ (I have one that I only use for this dessert so that it doesn’t carry flavors from other dishes. You can purchase inexpensive cast iron pans at Walmart)


To prepare the apples

peeled applesPeel, core and quarter the apples (depending on the size of the apples, you may need to halve the quarters. If the apples are large, it is best to do this so you can arrange them better.)

Place the apples in a bowl and toss with the lemon rind, juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of sugar. Let the apples steep in the sugar for 1/2 hour. Then place them in a colander and drain them. Set aside while preparing the cast iron skillet.

To prepare the caramelized sugar

caramelizing applesSet the skillet over moderately high heat. Add the butter. When melted, add the remaining sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon for several minutes until combined.

In a few minutes, the mixture will begin to darken in color and begin to bubble. Don’t be worried if the mixture is a bit lumpy. It will smooth out later as it continues to cook with the apples. Remove from the heat to arrange the apples.

Arrange the apples in a neat layer around the perimeter of the pan. Do the same in the middle of the pan, remembering that this will be the top of the tart when completed.

Now, pile the remaining apples on top, keeping them fairly packed and reasonably neat. They will sink while cooking so don’t worry if they heap slightly over the top of the pan.

basting applesPreheat the oven to 400 degrees while you continue to cook the apples on top of the stove. Set the pan back on a moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften. Using a turkey baster, bast the apples with the caramelized juices. The juices will become more caramelized as the apples cook. (see the photo on the fight to se me using the turkey baster to coat the apples).

basting applesCover the pan loosely with foil and let the apples continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, basting frequently. The juices should become thick and rather syrupy. Remove fro the heat and let cool slightly while you roll out the puff pastry dough.

Roll out the puff pastry dough

rolling doughOn a clean surface, lightly dust with flour and roll out the puff pastry to make it even and large en ought to cut an 8-inch round out of. Tip – You can use an 8-inch cake pan as a guide to cut out a perfect 8 inch circle.

Using the rolling pin, place the dough over the top of the apple filled skillet. Gently tuck in the sides.

Using a sharp paring knife to make slits on top of the dough to let steam come out when baked.rolling dough onto tart

Place the tart (it will be quite heavy) on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the pastry becomes lightly browned. remove from the oven and let rest on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes to cool. Be careful when removing the tatin. It will be extremely hot.

Have a clean parchment lined baking sheet ready. Use a hot pad to get a good hold of the skillet handle. In one, quick motion, flip the pan ovfinished baked tarter onto the new parchment lined pan. Lift up the skillet (Be careful as there will be some steam… photo)

If some of the apples remain in the pan, simply rearrange them on top of the finished tart. It is normal for a few apples to need rearranging after unmolding.

Serve warm or at room temperature.



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