French Apple Pie Recipe : La Tarte Tatin

Discover my French student Paul’s very own tarte Tatin recipe – French apple pie – with a twist to it! Follow this step by step recipe & pictures to make your own scrumptious homemade tarte Tatin.

OK, look: “Sweet” is not binary. “Sweet” consists of a delightful range of flavors. Unfortunately, granulated cane sugar has reduced “sweet” to an childish, half-mad shout, drowning out subtle, rich, and playful flavors; especially those of fruit.

FrenchToday.com’s Tarte Tatin introduces honey in combination with granulated sugar to add a sophisticated touch to this traditional dessert.

60ml (1/4 cup) of honey will yield a “resonance of sweetness” which will delight young and old.

Ready? Let’s go!

Preparing The Filling of La Tarte Tatin

  • 5-6 Medium Apples

Which variety? Be daring! Experiment!

  1. Granny Smith: Tart (sour), gets your attention!
  2. McIntosh: Sweet, nice choice for baking
  3. Jonathan: Sweet, traditional apple pie flavor
  4. Gala: Sweet but predictable
  • 120ml (1/2 Cup) Sugar
  • 60ml (1/4 Cup) Honey
  • 45ml (3 Tbsp) Butter (unsalted*)
  • 10ml (2 Tsp) Lemon Juice
    (from a lemon, for crying out loud, not a bottle!)
  • Lemon Zest (1/2 of a lemon peel)
  • 2ml (1/2 Tsp) Salt

Preparing The Crust of La Tarte Tatin

  • 240ml (1 Cup) Flour
    Use the best all purpose flour available.
  • 2ml (1/2 Tsp) Salt
  • 10ml (2 Tsp) Sugar
  • 100ml (7 Tbsp) butter (cold and unsalted*)
  • ~30ml (~2 Tbsp) Ice Cold Water

The Technique of La Tarte Tatin

Important Notes:
This recipe requires a 25.4cm (10 inch), cast-iron skillet. No other type of skillet will do! You will love it! So no complaining.
Use oven mitts to handle your cast iron skillet.
Start with the crust because it will need to be refrigerated while you prepare the filling. Important: Chill your butter. The success of this crust depends on it!

Step 1: Prepare the Crust of La tarte Tatin

French apple pie Tatin recipe 1

  1. Pour the flour, salt, and sugar into a medium bowl.
  2. Combine them well with a large spoon.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the dry ingredients.
  4. With a pastry blender, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture forms pea-sized grains.
  5. Continue to blend and add small amounts of the cold water until the mixture begins to stick.
  6. Flour your hands and press the mixture into a ball.
  7. Wrap the dough ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while you make the filling.

Step 2: Prepare the Apples For La Tarte Tatin

French apple pie Tatin recipe 1

  1. Peel and core your apples into 6 or 8 slices each.
  2. Place them in a large bowl.
  3. Add the salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the apple slices and toss thoroughly.

Step 3: Preheat your oven to (195° C.) 380° F.

Step 4: Cook the Filling of La Tarte Tatin

Note: The golden color is controlled by the temperature at which you melt the butter in this step. If your skillet is too hot, the butter will become quite brown and your tarte will look muddy. We want a golden brown appearance. So start with low heat.

French apple pie Tatin recipe 1

  1. Preheat your cast-iron skillet under low heat and melt the butter.
  2. While you stir the butter, add the honey and sugar.
  3. Continue to stir and slowly bring the mixture up to medium heat.
  4. The mixture will have a granular quality to it at first. As it warms, the texture will become smooth and the color will become light gold. This process will take from 6 to 7 minutes from the time the butter starts to melt until the texture becomes smooth.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat. Use an oven mitt on the handle!

You will make two layers of apples in the skillet.

  1. Place the apples into the skillet in a round pattern to form the first layer.
  2. Then add a second layer of apples.
  3. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook the apples for about 15 minutes. (Be careful! Do not let the mixture boil over.)
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  5. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.

Step 5: Apply the Crust to La Tarte Tatin

French apple pie Tatin recipe 1

  1. Take the dough from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.
  2. Roll out the dough on a well floured surface to make a circle of 28cm (11 inches).
  3. Transfer the dough to the skillet.
  4. Press the edges of the dough to the inside edges of the skillet.
  5. Cut a few vents into the crust.
  6. Let everything rest for 5 minutes.

Step 6: Bake La Tarte Tatin

  1. Place the skillet into the oven and bake the tarte at 195° C. (380° F.) for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden.
  2. Remove the skillet from the oven and let it rest for about 3 minutes.

Step 7: Turn out La Tarte Tatin

French apple pie Tatin recipe 1

Note: Be careful and remember to use your oven mitts. This is a little tricky, but you can do it!

  1. Take a large serving or dinner plate and center it, bottom side up, over the skillet.
  2. Hold the plate firmly to the skillet.
  3. With an oven mitt, hold the skillet by the handle.
  4. Quickly and confidently turn the tarte from the skillet on to the plate.

tarte tatin recipe

Step 8: Enjoy Your Homemade Tarte Tatin!

You can serve your Tarte Tatin warm or cold. Purists say to eat it warm.

I prefer to refrigerate the tarte overnight. This allows the honey and apple flavors to harmonize into that resonant chord of sweetness that we talked about.

* I said, “UNSALTED BUTTER!”

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