Classic Apple Tarte Tatin

Classic Apple Tarte Tatin
Photography by Jason Varney / Recipe Development by Susan Spungen

The tarte Tatin was born in the late 19th century at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, a small village in the heart of the Loire Valley. Created in an attempt to salvage overcooked (and caramelized) apples, it has grown to become one of the most celebrated and recognizable of all French desserts. Of all the Oscar-worthy pastries and cakes that food stylist Susan Spungen has twirled up for film, the tarte Tatin is especially close to her heart. Susan has been the brains and hands behind the on-screen food magic of several blockbuster hits, including It’s Complicated, starring Meryl Streep, and Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts. Susan mastered the tarte Tatin while styling food for her first feature film, Julie & Julia, so it was only fitting she produce this homage to our favorite upside-down pastry. Find Susan’s epic twists on this French classic in our March/April 2019 issue!

Classic Apple Tarte Tatin
Makes 1 (10-inch) tarte Tatin
  • ½ recipe Extra Flaky Dough (recipe follows)
  • 7 to 8 large Pink Lady or Gala apples (about 1,300 grams)
  • ½ lemon (50 grams)
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (57 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
  • Crème fraîche, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll Extra Flaky Dough into a 12-inch circle, about ⅛ inch thick. (When rolling dough out on parchment, make sure the paper is long so you can keep it in place by leaning up against the counter with the paper between you and the counter.) Place on a lightly floured plate, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Peel apples, cut them into thirds off core, and cut out any remaining seeds. Squeeze lemon over them.
  4. In a 12-inch skillet, cook sugar over medium heat, without stirring, until it begins to liquefy, 2 to 4 minutes. When it starts to melt more and brown, reduce heat slightly, give it one good stir with a whisk to avoid any sugar clumps, and don’t stir again. Remove from heat; add cold butter, and swirl to melt.
  5. Return skillet to heat; add apples and vanilla bean and reserved seeds. Cook over medium heat, gently stirring and turning, until apples soften and start to turn translucent at the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Discard vanilla bean.
  6. Using tongs, transfer apples, rounded side down, one at a time, to a 10-inch ovenproof skillet. (You could also use a 10-inch pie plate if you don’t have a skillet.) Arrange apples in a concentric circle around outside, overlapping and crowding them. Arrange remaining apples in center of ring. Scrape any leftover caramel over apples in skillet. Top with pastry round, tucking edges in all around. (The pastry should cradle the apples completely.) Cut a few vents in center, and place skillet on a baking sheet.
  7. Bake until pastry is nicely browned and apples are bubbling around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Run a knife around edges to loosen. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. If it has cooled completely before you serve, either return to oven to warm up, or place over low heat for a few minutes to melt caramel again. To invert, top with a serving plate, and grasp pan and plate tightly together as a unit (wearing oven mitts if it is still warm), and turn over. Remove pan. If any apples stick to pan, just replace them where they should go on the tart. Serve warm with crème fraîche.


Extra Flaky Dough
Makes dough for 2 (10-inch) tarts or 8 (4-to 5-inch) tarts
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (255 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 2½ cups (313 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons (90 to 120 grams) ice water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) apple cider vinegar
  1. Place cut butter in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor; place flour, sugar, and salt; pulse until combined. (See Note.) Add frozen butter, and pulse until butter is in nickel-to quarter-size pieces. (It should still be making a thumping sound when pulsed.) Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together 6 tablespoons (90 grams) ice water and vinegar. (See PRO TIP.) Drizzle water mixture into flour mixture, stirring with a fork until combined. Add enough remaining ice water until dough holds together when squeezed. If it still looks powdery and dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) at a time, until it holds together.
  4. Press dough together into a rough mass in bowl, and transfer to a sheet of parchment paper. Shape dough into a rough rectangle, and very lightly dust with flour. Roll dough into a 16×18-inch rectangle. Fold dough into thirds. Give dough a quarter or 90-degree turn, lightly flour again, and roll into a 16×8-inch rectangle again. Fold dough into thirds again, and freeze for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat procedure, giving dough 2 more turns. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
  5. Divide dough in half, and gently press each half into a rounder shape before rolling out.
To make a savory variation, which can be used for the Tomato Tarte Tatin, add ½ cup (48 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon (2 grams) fresh thyme leaves to the flour mixture.

PRO TIP-When making ice water for dough, use a liquid-measuring cup (or any spouted container) filled with ice cubes and water, and measure what you need in another smaller liquid-measuring cup.



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