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my version of Tart Tatin

my version of Tart Tatin

11/8/2010 update: Oops,  I was making this for Richard’s birthday, and realized that I didn’t have the recipe posted on the blog. So here goes the recipe (see below)… it’s a process, but you can make the filling and crust ahead of time.

Tart Tatin is a French style apple pie/tart. What’s the difference between a Tart Tatin and a regular American apple pie? Well, the apples are halved and cooked on the stove before the pie is baked in the oven. Also, Tart Tatin does not have bottom crust like regular pies, and its top crust is a puff pastry. When it’s baked it should be placed up-side down on the serving plate (just like pineapple upside down cake) to reveal the nicely arranged apple halves. Flavor wise, Tart Tatin is not as sweet and has more fresh lemon taste compare to a regular apple pie. The cinnamon taste is not as powering too.

My version of the pie is different from the traditional ones on the crust. I use almond pie crust instead of puff pastry because puff pastry doesn’t taste good unless it’s fresh hot from the oven, and this big pie takes 2-3 days for us to finish. Also, I don’t flip the pie upside down because I don’t want the crust to be soggy on the next day.

My family LOVES Tart Tatin. Richard requests it to be his birthday pie instead of cake and we decided to make it a family tradition. We find the regular apple pie to be too sweet and the cinnamon flavor is too strong to our liking. Tart Tatin tastes better to us. Plus, we like the BIG chunky apples much better than the thinly sliced (apples)with thick sauce. Believe it or not, it takes about 3-4 apples to make a regular pie but I use 6-8 big Golden Delicious apples to make Tart Tatin. Yeah… it’s heavy!

So, if you love your apple pie to taste rich (from the butter), yet not too sweet with a hint of fresh lemon flavor, and with big chunky apples, give it a try. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it.

Regina’s Tart Tatin


for Crust:
1/2 cup almonds
1  1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp chilled unsalted butter– cut into cubes
2 tbsp (or more) ice water

for Filling:
8 large Golden Delicious apples— see note below
1/2 cup butter– cut into pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon (or more)

1 beaten egg– for egg wash


Make Crust(can be prepared ahead):

  1. In a food processor finely grind the almonds. Add in flour, sugar and salt, blend to mix well.
  2. Add chilled butter cubes and pause several times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. While the food processor is running, add ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, and blend until the dough starts to come together (add more water if necessary).
  3. Transfer the dough on a surface. Shape the dough into a ball then flatten to form a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour and up to a day (or you can wrap up tight, place in freezer bag and freeze).

Make Filling (can be prepared ahead):

  1. Peel the apples, cut in half and remove the core. Place them in a large bowl and sprinkle generously with lemon juice. Use hand to gently toss apples to coat juice.
  2. Melt butter and sugar in a large sauce pan (must  be large enough to fit all the apples in 1 layer) over medium heat, add cinnamon and cook until sugar dissolves and the mixture turns into medium caramel color. Remove from heat.
  3. Arrange apple halves, in standing position, in the pan to form a circle. Fit them tightly as they will shrink during cooking.
  4. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat until apples are colored, about 20-25 minutes. Half way through cooking, carefully turn the apple halves up side down (with the help of a spoon) so the top part colored too. Remove from heat.
  5. Carefully transfer apple halves to a 9-inch round baking dish (If there’s still lots of liquid left in the pan, cook it down a little more) so the apples are in standing position– or if you’re confident, you can invert the apples straight from the pan to the baking dish. Set aside to cool slightly.

To Assemble:

Roll out the crust dough large enough to cover the baking dish. Place the crust on top of the apples and tuck in around the edge of the baking dish. Make a few slit on the surface and brush with egg wash. Bake in the middle rack in preheated 450°F oven for 25 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Regina’s Note:

  • The amount of apples used depend on the size of your baking dish. To determine, place whole apples in the baking dish, then add 1-2 more, as apples will shrink during cooking.
  • When I roll out pie/tart dough, I place the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap. I then place the baking dish on top of the plastic to ensure my dough is large enough to cover. After that I remove the top sheet of plastic and carefully flip onto the baking dish, and peel off the remaining plastic. Since the dough is “short” and thus very easy to fall apart, I find this method works as the dough will stick to the plastic while transferring. Less dough crumbs goes to waste and clean up is a breeze too.
  • If I’m not making Tart Tatin, I cut apples into small chunks and cook until tender and mushy (it becomes applesauce)– then it can be used to flavor oatmeal, spread on crackers/toast, or to make a caramel apple chiffon cake etc…

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