Apple Tarte Tatin: French Apple TartClick for Reviews


Tarte Tatin is basically an upside-down tart, which traditionally is made with apples that are caramelised in butter and sugar before the top is put on and baked.

There are a few fanciful stories as to how this tart received its name, however while in Paris at my cooking classes in Le Cordon Bleu, (brag brag), chef told the best one so far….

Hotel Tatin was run by two sisters, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin. They lived in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron, France, about 160 km south of Paris, in the 1880’s.


Stephanie and Caroline Tatin

Legend has it that Caroline, the brighter of the two sisters, would deal with “front of house”, while poor sweet, but ditsy Stephanie was delegated to the kitchen. While beginning to make a traditional apple pie one day, Stephanie “forgot” to put a pie crust on the bottom of the pan before placing the apples and sugar in, covering it with pastry and putting the whole pan in the oven. After removing the “tarte” from the oven, she realised her mistake. Not wanting to waste food and at least put something on the table, she presented it “upside down” on a plate with a dollop of thick cream. The hotel guests loved the caramelised apples and crisp “base” so much, that….. Et voila!… a classic was born.


1880’s picture

The famous Parisian restaurateur Maxim, decided after hearing of this new dish, that he must have the recipe, and sent one of his cooks disguised as a gardener, to work in the hotels kitchen gardens and spy on the kitchen so as to steal the recipe. After three weeks he was discovered as a fraud and fired. However he was lucky enough to “pierce the secrets of the kitchen”, and to this day, in Maxim’s, Paris, you can order “Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin”.

Tarte Tatin was traditionally made using two apple varieties called Calville and Reine des Reinettes (King of the Pippins). Over time, other varieties have been used and here in Australia the best ones to choose from are Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathan or Gala apples. Basically any apple, except the floury varieties, that can hold their shape in the pan and not break down and dissolve into apple sauce.

Tarte Tatin is also made using pears, pineapple, peaches, plums, etc, and even tomatoes or beetroot, but my favourite variation is made with leeks, onion, or the French purple shallot topped with little pieces of salty goats’ cheese to balance out the sweetness of the leeks, and garnished with thyme or tarragon for extra fragrance.


Hotel Tatin is still open today


And so to the recipe…..



  • 6-7 apples, peeled, quartered and cored
  • 200 g white sugar
  • 75 g butter
  • A sheet of readymade puff pastry to cover;


Or you can make a short crust pastry using the flowing ingredients. (See notes.)

  • 225 g plain flour
  • 2 tbspn caster sugar
  • 120 g cold butter
  • 1 medium egg, beaten


Granny smiths



  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Put sugar and butter into a heavy-based oven-proof pan.
  3. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it starts to caramelise.



    4. Place apples round side down on top of the caramel.


    5. Continue to cook on medium to low heat until the apples are starting to be surrounded by the caramel and are becoming soft.



 6. Cover the tarte with pastry, (see notes on pastry type used), tucking edges down around the apples….watch your fingers as caramel is VERY HOT! Bake for about 30 mins until pastry is golden and remove from oven.

         7. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 mins.


The caramel will be very hot and continue to simmer for a few mins.


8. After resting the tarte for 5 mins, place a serving plate slightly larger than the pan, upside-down onto the pastry. Using gloves or towels quickly but carefully invert and allow pan to stay on top for a minute or two just to allow the caramel to release from the bottom of the pan.



9. Carefully remove pan using gloves or towel.



Tarte Tain is best served warm, with a dollop of cream, creme fraiche, or real vanilla ice cream.



If making pastry, using the ingredients list above, sift the flour and add sugar and a pinch of salt.

  • Rub butter into flour with fingers until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.

Mix the egg with 2 tspn cold water, pour over flour and butter and mix together to form a soft but not sticky dough, adding gradually a little more water if needed.

Shape into a ball, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 20 mins before rolling out.


  • The apples cooked in caramel can be made hours before so that you only need place the pastry on top and cook tarte in oven just before needed, removing the pan in front of your guests and getting that “OOOHH WOW” we all like so much.



GAYNORB. 20.08.2013

Hi Corrie,
I’ve been looking for a good tatin recipe and I think I’ve found it!

MAUREEN. 22.06.2012

I love tarte tatin. I can only make it when we have guests because I can’t leave it alone until it’s gone. 🙂


This is one of my favourite desserts when the sweetness of the apple is done just right. I didn’t know about Maxim though-sneaky!


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