This gorgeous, caramelized apple tarte tatin recipe will have you drooling for a bite from start to finish! The scent of sweet caramel cooking in a skillet and then buttery pastry baking in the oven is enough to make anyone a believer in this classic French dessert recipe.
What is the difference between a tart and tarte tatin?
If you’ve never heard of a tarte tatin, it’s basically an upside-down tart. What this means is that rather than lining a tart pan with pastry dough and filling it with whatever ingredients your tart calls for, you actually put the filling ingredients in a pan and top that with your pastry dough.
The idea is that when you finish baking the tart, you’ll flip the pan over and all will be right in the world; the baked crust will sit on the bottom and the filling ingredients will sit right on top, nicely as all normal desserts should. Ha!
While this apple tarte tatin recipe is very similar to the French apple tart recipe I’ve shared here on the site, the apples in a tarte tatin are caramelized first.
In the French apple tart recipe, the apples are sliced thin and coated in raw sugar before layered on the puff pastry.
Both recipes are incredibly delicious and worth trying.
This apple tarte tatin does require a bit more work than the other apple tart, but if you saw my plum tatin cake, then you’ll completely understand why the French even bother with a tarte tatin recipe and what the advantage is here.
Basically, the fruit has a chance to caramelize by cooking in the warm sugar over the stove and while it’s baking in the oven, resting on the bottom of the hot skillet.
This is something that the apples just can’t do without hot caramel in the recipe, which is something the other kind of apple tart doesn’t have.
What is the best pan for tarte tatin?
When you’re making a tarte tatin, it’s imperative that you use an oven-safe skillet.
Quick Apple Tarte Tatin Recipe
This classic apple tarte tatin is everything you want in a tarte tatin. The apples are tender and sweet with the taste of caramel, while the pastry crust is crisp, light, and flaky.
You can choose to make the crust with either pie dough or puff pastry. I typically use store-bought to keep this a relatively quick apple tarte tatin recipe.
Which type of crust you decide to use is dependent on what effect you’re trying to achieve. Puff pastry will give you an airier, lighter effect.
The downside is that puff pastry, well, puffs, and also tends to come in a square shape, making the end look a bit rough around the edges, as displayed here.
That said, I personally love the lighter texture of puff pastry and think a bit of rustic flair is worth it. I do know that Trader Joe’s often sells puff pastry in a circular shape, which is worth looking into if you want to avoid messing with the pastry too much.
Pie dough, on the other hand, comes in the perfect shape to go on top of a round skillet. While good pie dough is still pretty flaky and light, it’s not as light as puff pastry so you’re going to get a slightly more dense crust.
Either way, I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this apple tarte tatin. The flavor and juices of the sweet apples seep into the crust, giving it a lusciously caramelized taste that’s to-die-for!
Can I make tarte tatin the day before?
If you’re planning to make an apple tarte tatin a day in advance, I would choose to make the tart with pie dough. I find that pie dough lasts better than puff pastry (puff pastry really needs to be eaten same day).
You can store the tart in a covered cake stand on the counter, then pop the tart into an oven on the warm setting so it has a chance to get deliciously warm again.
Serve the tart warm with some vanilla ice cream and you’ve got some real dessert magic that will have you whisked off to a Paris bistro in no time!
for the pastry dough
- 1 sheet of pie dough or puff pastry dough, thawed
for the apple layer
- 5-6 medium Granny smith apples
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- vanilla ice cream to serve with, optional
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare the apples by first peeling all of them. Then cut the apples into thirds (or quarters if your apples are large), cutting around the cores and discarding the cores.
- Pour the sugar into a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, dispersing the sugar all over the bottom of the pan. Add in the water. DO NOT STIR. Let the sugar dissolve in the water and bubble until the mixture turns a light amber color. This will take about 6 to 10 minutes, so keep an eye on the sugar and lower the heat a bit if it seems like it's browning too quickly.
- Slide the skillet off the heat temporarily and sprinkle in the salt. Add the unsalted butter, and then move the skillet back over to medium-low heat. Use a wooden spoon to stir the butter in until it's melted. Your caramel may clump or seize; this is OK as it will dissolve again once it's getting hot again over the stove. The cold butter does this to the caramel.
- Add the apples into the caramel and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender. Be sure to stir the caramel and apples every minute or so.
- Meanwhile, roll out your pie dough or puff pastry dough to elongate it a bit to ensure it can cover the diameter of your 10 inch-skillet.
- Once the apples are tender, use two forks to help you flip each apple wedge over so that the cut side is facing up. Arrange the apples in a radial pattern.
- Center the pastry dough over the skillet and place on top of the apples to completely cover all the apples. Tuck the edges of dough into the skillet, under the apples, using a spoon.
- Bake the tart for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the tart halfway through. Once the pastry is golden, remove the tart and let it rest for a few minutes. Grab a serving plate that's large enough to cover the entire skillet and place it upside down on top of the skillet. Flip the skillet (and essentially the tart) over onto the plate. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.