Classic Apple Tart Tatin is the classic French upside down apple tart cooked in caramelized brown sugar. This is delicious, rustic dessert that will really wow the crowd!
We’re on the Thanksgiving home stretch, and while I really wanted to get this to you waaaayyy back in September, this Classic Apple Tart Tatin is a perfect dessert for T-Day. 🙂
You’re familiar with Tart Tatin right? If so, you know it’s a classic French dessert that came about by mistake. Apparently a French hotel owner put her popular apple tart in the oven the wrong way around (this sounds like something I might do), and it turned out even better. Imagine…chunky apples cooked in caramelized sugar that’s covered in a buttery pastry crust? That’s exactly what this tart is, and it’s melt in your mouth delicious.
This recipe was adapted from one I got at culinary school, and it was one of our favorites. Each time it was served at lunch for our guests, it had that major WOW factor. It’s flipped upside down onto a serving platter when it’s piping hot, resulting in a large amount of oooh’s and aaah’s. Flipping a hot tart might give you a bit of anxiety, but trust me, it really is easy! In fact, this entire dessert is easier than apple pie. 🙂
I used my Quick and Easy Flaky Pie Crust recipe here, which I like to make in advance and store in the fridge until the apples are ready to go.
And now, it’s time for the apples. 🙂
You need about 2 1/2 lbs. of apples, and you can use your favorite baking variety or combination of them. I use half Granny Smith and half Pink Lady apples, which was the perfect tart-sweet combo.
I’ve made this tart a couple of times, and I honestly liked it better when the apples were in larger chunks than shown here (the apples were quartered) because they held their shape better. For this particular tart tatin, I sliced them in chunky 2″ slices.
Next, you place half of the sugar and some butter on the bottom of the skillet (I used brown sugar for more flavor) so it will get nice and caramelized, then pack the apples in top sides down, top with the rest of the sugar, and dots of butter. Cook on high for about 5 minutes covered and the sugar will be nice and bubbly as shown in the second photo. Continue to cook an additional 10-15 minutes until the sugar is nice and caramelized and the apples have softened some. You can move the apples around as they shrink down so they’re nice and packed in.
Next, let the apples cool while you roll out your dough and preheat the oven. If your dough was refrigerated for some time, it may need to sit at room temperature until it’s roll-able. Place the dough over the warm apples and cut the excess off with a knife or kitchen sheers. Tuck the ends of the crust in around the edges — there’s no fancy crimping here!
Bake the tart until the crust is golden brown, or about 30 minutes, and then comes the fun part….you get to flip it. 🙂
If there are some pieces of apple stuck to the pan, just get them out and place them on the tart. This is a rustic dish, so no matter if it doesn’t look “perfect”. I promise it will taste perfect, and that’s what matters!
I love this Classic Apple Tart Tatin because it’s apple pie without the fuss. It’s rustic and approachable, yet still elegant and exciting. I mean, caramelized apples is always exciting for me. 🙂
If you do plan to make this for Thanksgiving, you can place this in the oven 30 minutes before dessert time, flip it, and serve it. You could make it ahead, but you’d need to re-warm it on the stove top to loosen up all those sugars for successful flipping.
Serve this Classic Apple Tart Tatin warm as-is, with ice cream, or may I recommend some vanilla whipped cream? I definitely recommend the whipped cream. 🙂
More caramel apple love!
- 1 recipe Quick and Easy Flaky Pie Crust (see link in Notes)*
- 2½ lbs. apples, peeled, cored, and either quartered, depending on size, or cut into 2" slices (I used a combination of Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ¾ cup brown sugar, divided (you may substitute granulated sugar)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Prepare the pie crust ahead, and form it into a flattened disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it a minimum of 30 minutes before rolling.
- Place 4 tablespoons of butter in the bottom of the skillet, and melt it over medium heat. Brush the bottom and sides of the skillet with the melted butter and remove from heat. Sprinkle evenly with ½ cup of the brown sugar.
- Pack as many apples as you can into the bottom of the skillet top sides down, and wedge any remaining apples over the top of them the way they fit best. Cover and place over high heat for about 5 minutes to caramelize the sugar. Keep a close eye on it and reduce the heat to medium high to prevent burning if necessary.
- Remove the lid and cook the apples an additional 10-15 minutes until the sugar is has caramelized completely and the apples have softened. Rearrange the apples in the pan as they shrink down. Remove from heat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees while you roll out the dough.
- Roll out the dough until it's large enough to cover the apples, cutting off any excess with a knife or kitchen shears. Tuck the edges of the crust into the sides and bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Remove from heat and immediately invert onto a serving dish. If any apples stick to the bottom of the skillet, simply remove them and place them on the tart. Serve warm as-is, with ice cream, or whipped cream!
- Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat at medium high speed. Sprinkle in the sugar and add the vanilla, continuing to beat until medium peaks form. Use the whisk attachment to manually whisk the cream until it's exactly the consistency you want it, if necessary.
This tart is best served right out of the oven, but if you bake it in advance, cook it over the stove top over medium heat just before serving to loosen up the sugars once again for successful flipping.
Recipe adapted slightly from Tante Marie Cooking School, San Francisco, CA.