apple tarte tatin, anew

[Psst! There’s a newer, more perfect version of this recipe over here.]

My brain is currently in Paris, idling in a cafe after a bike ride along the Seine. It may not come home. It started a few weeks ago, when an obsession with getting to the bottom of a baked spinach dish mentioned in a letter by Julia Child allowed me to, once again, dive deeply into the pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What I didn’t have was an exit strategy, which is especially dangerous when day to day life lately has been a bit more about double ear infections, sleep deprivation, cookbooking in a tiny, overheated kitchen, oh, and then we paid taxes things nobody needs to hear me complain about. In short: I choose Paris, instead. So the last few weeks have brought to our table weeknight roasted chicken, tiny gold potatoes, simple green salads, skinny green beans, white wine, weepingly delicious onion soup and a spate of apple tarte tatins.

apples, cored, with a little bevel
foamy butter
a light caramel that looks dark

The tarte tatin is one of my favorite apple desserts, but also one of my most consistent failures. Again and again over the years, I’ve tried to get it right but rarely did. Some were too sweet. Often, the apples didn’t cook through. I burnt the caramel more times than I’ll admit to, even in the last week. I’ve cut the apples all wrong. I’ve used puff pastry that didn’t want to puff and short crusts that crumbled under the caramelized apple juices. And a good lot of the time, the caramel just never came together, and remained a toasty syrup with a puddle of butter floating on top. Not that anyone complains about such things. More or less, if there’s a place where you can mess up a tarte tatin, I’ve done it. Multiple times.

don't worry, they'll shrink

basting is essential

But in recent weeks, and I think I’ve finally gotten the swing of things. The caramel should be just a pale golden when you add the apples, as it will have the better part of an hour to darken after that. The apples, and this is essential, should be basted with the syrupy juices the whole time they’re on the stove, and you shouldn’t skimp there either or they won’t cook through. I’m no longer afraid to rearrange the apples as needed; my stove doesn’t cook evenly from the center to the edges of the burner, so why would I expect my apples to? The result has been a series of baby tatins (that’s a mini you see above; just like someone else) with copper-toned cobblestoned undersides that when flipped, sigh and slump over the edges of a very puffed pastry base. For something simmered then baked in caramel, you’ll be amazed at how un-sweet the whole thing is, yet so apple-y. Yes, I just used the word “apple-y”. Make this, you’ll see.

ready for their lid
ready to flip

One year ago: Tangy Spiced Brisket and Radicchio Apple and Pear Salad
Two years ago: Bialys, Artichokes Braised in Lemon and Olive Oil and Chewy Amaretti Cookies
Three years ago: Vegetarian Cassoulet and Shaker Lemon Pie
Four years ago: Arugula Ravioli and Mixed Berry Pavlova

Apple Tarte Tatin [Upside-Down Caramelized Apple Tart]
Adapted from Julia Child, Orangette and experience

At one point, things were so bad on the apple tarte tatin front that after my friend Molly wow-ed us one night with a salted caramel apple tarte tatin, I insisted that she guest post about her recipe and technique. Although I’m still fond of Molly’s, I think this update benefits from streamlined directions and longer cooking times; I’ve also found that I prefer the puffed pastry base to the short pastry one I believed I preferred then. Finally, her base is a salted caramel, from salted butter and if that sounds good to you, go ahead and use salted butter or a couple pinches of sea salt in this version.

If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, feel free to cook the apples on the stove and transfer them to a 9-inch round baking dish, along with all of their caramel before topping them with the pastry and baking them in the dish. Invert as you would the skillet.

Note: In the photos above, I made a 3/4-size version in a 7ish inch skillet. The recipe below is for a full-sized tatin, as you’ll hopefully only have to make it once to get it right.

6 medium apples (I had the most success with Golden Delicious and Granny Smiths)
Juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) butter
1 1/3 cup (266 grams) sugar, divided
Puffed pastry, chilled
A 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heavy enough that you fear dropping it on your toes

Peel apples, halve and core apples. Once cored, cut lengthwise into quarters (i.e. four pieces per apple) and cut a bevel along their inner edge, which will help their curved exteriors stay on top as they rest on this edge. (You can see this beveled edge here.) Toss apple chunks with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes; this will help release the apple’s juices, too much of them and the caramel doesn’t thicken enough to cling merrily to the cooked apples.

Melt butter in your skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in remaining 1 cup sugar and whisk it over the heat until it becomes the palest of caramels. Off the heat, add the apples to the skillet, arranging them rounded sides down in one layer. Lay any additional apple wedges rounded sides down in a second layer, starting from the center.

Return the pan to the stove and cook in the caramel for another 20 to 25 minutes over moderately high heat. With a spoon, regularly press down on the apples and baste them caramel juices from the pan. If it seems that your apples in the center are cooking faster, swap them with ones that are cooking more slowly, and rotate apples that are cooking unevenly 180 degrees. The apples will shrink a bit and by the end of the cooking time, your second layer of apples might end up slipping into the first — this is fine.

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out your puffed pastry to a 9-inch circle and trim if needed. Cut four vents in pastry. Remove skillet from heat again, and arrange pastry round over apples. Tuck it in around the apples for nicer edges later. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Once baked, use potholders to place a plate or serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan, learn from my messes!) over the pasty and with a deep breath and a quick prayer, if you’re into that kind of thing, unmold the pastry and apples at once onto the plate. If any apples stubbornly remain behind in the pan, nudge them out with a spatula.

Serve with a dollop of whipped crème fraîche, or lightly sweetened whipped cream and eat immediately.

* My favorite, by miles, though not exactly budget-minded, is from Dufour. It tastes like something straight out of a Paris pastry shop.

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269 comments on apple tarte tatin, anew

  1. I just saw your pictures on Flickr first, and am so glad you posted this soon afterward. I’ve only tried to make one tart tatin, and it did not go well. I hope to make this one soon with much more success. (Also: would it be weird to admit that I went and spent about 10 minutes looking at a bunch of old pictures of Jacob? He’s seriously the cutest child on earth.)

  2. Okaaaay, I’ll try it. But I’ve been bossed around by apple tarte tatin myself and I’m still slightly scarred. The first couple of times I tried the recipe – LaRousse I think – it went perfectly. Then the caramel just would not work. Over and over. But I really like your suggestion for getting some of liquid out of the apples before starting. And adding apples the caramel before it gets too dark. Once more into the breach…. And thanks for another great post!

  3. This is a dish that I love to eat in restaurants but I’ve never dared to try it…maybe now I’ll be brave enough with the benefit of your experience!

  4. That just looks glorious. I took a cooking class once taught by the chef from Bouchon (not the Thomas Keller Bouchon, but our local Bouchon restaurant) and it was wonderful. Just good simple ingredients. Perfection.

  5. Wow! Your first picture makes this look almost too gorgeous to eat, but with all your hard work to perfect it, I hope you enjoy every last bite!!I’ve never made anything like this, but combining caramelized apples with puff pastry? I think I’m going to have to try very, very soon.

  6. I bet the caramel flavor is amazing and I really would like to make it, however I fear that the time I would spend standing over the stove tending to the apples would far outweigh the length of time that this would last on my counter before it gets devoured.

  7. My brain is on the same vacation as yours!

    I’ve always been wary of making tarte tatin; like you said, so often it turns out to be too sweet. But your dessert recipes always turn out just right for me – and I’ve tried lots of them! – so I will absolutely be making this. (Plus, who can say no when you say “streamlined directions” and “caramel” in the same breath?) Thank you! :)

  8. I too have had some similar failures with all sorts of tartins. In fact, all sorts of upsidedown cakes! Makes me think I should just stick to right-side up cakes! Yours is beautiful though, glad you finally conquered the tart!

  9. Glad to hear that a kitchen goddess like yourself has issues with tarte tain. Makes me feel better!
    Thanks for cleaning your stove before taking photos; I saw someone’s stove in a photo on a food blog the other day that was absolutely filthy! I thought maybe it was normal? Glad to see it just isn’t so!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  10. Laura

    Why, why must you post just before I head to dinner at the college dining hall, which, while it serves much better food than some do, is still no match for a good cook in a home kitchen?!

    (P.S. The flickr link to the photo of beveled apples is broken, I believe– it tries to go to rather than just the etc. etc. bit.)

  11. I’ve both read and thought about making this many, many times, but something has always held me back. Thanks to your post, however, I’m thinking that it’s high time I give it a try. Even if it doesn’t come out as beautifully as yours, it should still at least be edible!

  12. Tarte tatin has been on my list of things to bake for months now, I’m just too afraid to try it. As always, you’ve given great motivation to finally do it! Thanks! Now if I could just find the time…

    1. deb

      JC — DuFour is sold at Whole Foods and by Fresh Direct (or at least, it once was) and I’m sure a bunch of other places. If I remember correctly, DuFour is headquartered at like 9th Avenue below 14th Street, so they’re superlocal and well-distributed in NYC.

      Hanna — Heavier skillets retain heat better. They’re better with caramels and baking. If you don’t have one, don’t sweat it, but if you have on that’s, as I said, heavy enough to hurt a toe, definitely use it first.

      Broken links — Hopefully mostly fixed. I work in Google Docs and Google Docs has decided to upgrade itself again (without a single noticeable change, except zero-ing out my settings that tell it not to change straight quotes to smartquotes, grr).

  13. Elizabeth

    I am about to act like one of the horrible posters who ask you to redo or explain something they could very well do for themselves but…

    You said you did a 3/4 version in a seven-inch pan. I have a seven-inch pan and a small household.

    I have a scale, too, and while I could very well take your measurements for the final tatin in grams, divide them by fourths, then multiply the outcome by three to get to the amounts needed to bake a baby tatin, if you happened to still have them lying around, well, I’d be a most appreciative recipient. The ingredients look simple enough I could almost eyeball it but with something this delicious, it would be nice to have the benefit of a tested recipe.

    If that’s too much work, then I guess we’ll just have some testing to do!

  14. Fanya

    Two of the links doesn’t work (had the address twice): the amaretti cookies (which I found and immediately bookmarked) and the Molly’s apple tarte tatin.

    *sigh* apple dishes seems so fussy with peeling/de-core. I think I’ll have my friends do that while I’m making dinner next time they come over.

  15. Sharon

    Looks awesome. I don’t have the right size pan, I’m going to try this in a cake pan. Wish me luck! I love tatin, and have never made it. They sell Dufour in the suburban Fairways, too

  16. Oh how I LOVE Paris…my brain wants to go back there so badly! This looks amazing! I’ve been thinking about making one gluten free recently since I saw Jamie Oliver make it on his travel show recently. Oh…to be in Paris right now…

  17. Dalnapen

    But Deb, have you tried making your own puff pastry? I mean, you’re already in elbow deep with the cookbook and the baby–why not pile on more? (smile). When you are bored someday, though, I hope you’ll try. I fumbled through a basic recipe and the results were pretty darn good–and far superior to the frozen available to me. Just think what the almighty Smitten could do if motivated… Thanks! for this recipe–there isn’t really anything much better than cooked apples.

  18. Looks absolutely heavenly and while Tarte Tatin is my go-to dessert order in restaurants, I haven’t yet attempted at home…though now I’m a bit intimidated if it’s given you so much trouble. I’ll have to confer with my culinary fairy-godmother (aka my mom) on this one…

    On an unrelated note, am I the only one that was a little too-impressed by the crisp white, immaculately clean stove top?

  19. Kristen E

    I’ve never been able to master a tarte tatin either, so thanks for sharing this! Now if only I could find puff pastry that wasn’t made by Pepperidge Farm – it tastes SO artificial. Alas, rural Indiana isn’t exactly bursting with Whole Foods stores or anything even close! And I’m lazy, so making my own is out, at least for everyday eating.

  20. Jillzee

    I’m intrigued by the onion soup recipe you mention in the beginning. I haven’t found one that turned out that great, but I love the idea of it.

  21. Anna

    Did you say “weepingly delicious onion soup?” I heart onion soup but have never made it successfully (too salty, too watery, too something).

  22. I’m is awe of your ability to master this one! Way too much for me right now…maybe my daughter-in-law (our family dessert-master) can give this a try. Thanks for the hints and tips!

  23. Susan

    All of a sudden it’s cloudy, The Giants are playing the Padres, a chilly breeze is pouring in my window and an apple tart tatin is on my screen. Is it autumn? Already?
    I was just at our little corner market the other day and couldn’t believe all the apples that were still available and talked myself out of buying some jonagolds for a pie. I just didn’t trust that they weren’t going to be mealy this late in the season. Were your apples crisp enough?

  24. Stefanie

    hi – i can’t wait to try this! i’ve tried many times (and failed all but once) in the past. i even bought my cousin a copper tarte tatin pan, but she gave it back to me and made me promise to make it once per month for her (but i haven’t). my courage has been renewed – thanks!

  25. Paula B.

    Yes, April in Paris, I will join you although it could still be a tad chilly as we sip our drinks at the outdoor cafe. Apples, a tart, mais oui!

  26. Kris

    Yessssss!!! I’ve been waiting for you to post this ever since I saw it on your flickr. This is next up on the dessert roster!

  27. oh, apple tarte tatin. so glorious and delicious! this seems to be just about the easiest recipe i’ve seen for it. i’ll be making this soon, no doubt about that!

    also, my fiance and i will be in paris for our honeymoon in december, and i cannot wait to sample the tarte tatin there, in all its fabulously french glory. oh, and also we’ll be eating everything else in sight, that’s a given! :]

  28. This looks great.
    I’ve made Tarte Tatin a few times, changing the recipe each time and still can’t seem to get past the overwhelming sweetness of the desert. Just too much for my palate I guess.

    1. deb

      Christy — I think most Tatin recipes have more sugar than this. This one is almost bittersweet, especially once the caramel bakes that dark.

  29. I will certainly have to try this one. Although, I may just bookmark it and wait for the lovely fall apples. But I might just get impatient before then! I do hope you’ll tell us how to make puff pastry. Although, I tried to make my own phyllo dough at one point and good lord was it a lot of work. Next time I make German apple strudel, I’ll just buy the damn dough.

    Would it be wrong to include a touch of cinnamon in this recipe? I do so love cinnamon, especially with apples…

  30. Krista

    Ellizabeth! You’d just need to multiply each ingredient by 0.75 =)

    4.5 medium apples (I had the most success with Golden Delicious and Granny Smiths)
    Juice of a half a small* lemon (close enough, you could cut 1/4 off half a lemon to be precise…)
    4.5 tablespoons (63.75 grams) butter
    1 cup (199.5 grams) sugar, divided

    Toss 1/4 cup of sugar with the apples and use the other 3/4 with the melted butter.

    Good luck!

  31. Mmmmmm. Our french family made this for us last fall when we were in France. It has been on my mind ever since but I had to perfect brioche….then macarons…then this and that. Its time. I think I will go for it using your guidelines. Thank you Smitten Kitchen!

  32. Leslie Freeman

    Do the fairies come in at night and clean your stove and cooking pans? I wish it were true. You deserve it for all the pleasure you give us. I know we all look for the little fella’ as well as the recipes.

    1. deb

      There are occasional stove cleaning faeries, I won’t lie. But seriously, my kitchen is smaller than most closets. It’s one 2’x3′ counter, one white sink and that stove. Keeping those three tiny areas clean is the only way I can stay sane. And look, I know people are all into the green cleaners and so am I, for most things. But one teeny-tiny-droplet of Soft Scrub with bleach makes the entire sink and stove look sparkly, with no actual scrubbing. So, basically I get to be lazy and don’t have to look at grease splatters from yesterday’s braise.

      Can we never talk about this again? :)

  33. Della

    Looks great, as usual. Thanks for the link to the beveled edges: now I get it! I, too, was impressed by the blindingly white stove, and I hadn’t read the comments yet. I’m surprised no one has commiserated with you about the ear infections yet! My son is almost 20 and I still remember how miserable those were!

  34. Renee

    Where you talk about your friend Molly you hyperlinked “guest post her recipe and technique” but the link only leads to an error message. I’m always looking for good food blogs and was hoping you would provide the link to Mollys if she has one. Thanks!

  35. P.S. I FEEEEL you on the sleep deprivation. We have two littles (3yrs and 8 mos) and both have snotty noses and up-all-night coughs. It’s brutal.

  36. Rhonda

    I want dessert now and I have puff pastry left from the holidays. Been through the earaches, tubes, etc. and glad that my baby finally outgrew them by first grade. He’s now 13 and in horrible teenage angst that is as bad as the terrible twos except I don’t get to hold and rock him. Will have to try the Paris dreamworld and apple tarte tatin.

  37. thanks for sharing that you’ve previously failed, makes me feel a little better.I tried to make foccacia bread, epic fail.

    The worst part, I had to wait 48 hours to figure this out. Damn you long rise time.

    Maybe I’ll try this, looks droolable.

  38. Amy

    I wish I had thought to warn you about sick baby sleep problems. I am always puzzled about the sleep problems for days until my baby develops some other symptom, then I realize that the poor guy has been sick all along and I’ve been complaining because he won’t sleep. Note to self – remember this next time!

  39. Erin

    These pictures really highlight the spotlessness of your stove. I’m envious of your ability to keep a gas-range stove looking brand new, especially with all the use it undoubtedly gets.

  40. Erin

    p.s. I’ve been visiting your site for a few years now, and I’m sorry that my first post is not specifically about the food! :)

  41. The foaming butter is enough to make me weep and the spring rain is enough to make anyone dream of Paris. This tart seems to be headed toward transitional comfort food – no longer a heavy winter pudding, but holding off on summer’s sorbet. Gorgeous, as always.

  42. Rock Skipper

    Gorgeous!! I must try your recipe, though I continue to shock myself by turning out (what I consider to be) scrumptious Tarte Tatins from the (1997) Joy of Cooking recipe. I reluctantly used the Golden Delicious apples they suggest and was surprised by what a great cooking apple they are…holding their shape but melt-in-your-mouth tender. Um….I leave for Paris on Friday. Just a short visit: 10 days. I have your list of restaurants, part of a lengthy list gleaned from two months of research. I can hardly sleep I’m so excited. Breizh Cafe is the first stop. We were there last year on your recommendation…still with our luggage in tow from the airport, and I had a salted butter caramel crepe at 11:00 in the morning…right after we split a falafel at L’As… Thanks, as always, for a beautiful, eloquent, drool-inducing post.

  43. My mouth is watering, it’s 10 p.m. right now, and I am tempted to go in the kitchen and make that right now.
    Love hearing you talk about Paris, brings back great memories for me.

  44. Gorgeous photos! I can’t seem to get good apples right now, though. I think they’re all from cold storage, so I may have to wait until stone fruits show up at the farmer’s markets. Peaches, apricots, pluots all make amazing tarte tatins. I made one last summer with tomatoes — ridiculously delicious and you would think you were eating plums.

  45. We must be kin.. I have been dreaming non-stop about Paris for the last three weeks. Bordering obsession, even. Well, not bordering – completely full blown. Ahh warm apples in Paris in April. I can sleep a happy woman now.

  46. If there’s anything I fear more lately in the kitchen, it’s touching a puff pastry. Maybe it’s because of how delicate it is, it’s thinner than paper and lighter than air, I’m so afraid to even try because I feel like I’ll screw it up in the process. Sigh, which brings me to admit despite how alluring those apples are swimming in that shallow pool of gooey caramel, I’m going to have to pass. :(

  47. Roger

    I’ve probably had a few tatin failures that you haven’t, if only because I used a recipe that had me slicing the apples thinly, layering them in a spiral outward from the center, etc. and doing the caramel in another pan.

    Your assemblage look soooo much easier.

  48. Giovani

    I really enjoy reading your posts and recipes, this tart looks amazing and what is better than a caramel apple? Salted caramel apples! Sitting in a puffy, buttery shell!

    To Patricia Ann I say never fear! Puff pastry is much less intimidating than phyllo, which I think you’re referring to. Make this tart. :)

  49. I’ve struggled with tart tatin and everyone says how easy it is, so I’m glad you shared your experiences here. I’ll give it another go as it is one of my favourite puddings to eat. I often escape to an ongoing daydream but have rarely extended it into my cooking!

  50. There’s never a day when I don’t think of Paris and with one bite of tarte tatin I’m back in a little bistro in Montparnasse :)
    I’ll definitely be trying your method.

  51. I so know that feeling of running away by cooking foods that remind you of a place or a holiday. Melodramatic can me my middle name, especially when nostalgia caught me. Recently I’ve been in a bit of a Mediterranean mood..
    Multiple hours I spend on you-tube watching some chef explaining how to make tarte-tatin. With me the first insecurity comes by not owning the right pan, so I often make it using a baking tray.
    This is one of those recipes that often fails in lots of kitchen, therefore it is such a reward if you do succeed. Warm from the oven, scoop of vanilla ice-cream.. yes, It’ll be like I’m in France!

  52. Katie A

    Sounds like I’m not the only one a little intimidated by tarte tatin. Very tempted to try this, though; can’t always revert to safe recipes!
    Deb, your pictures help a ton.

  53. This looks fabulous… quick question about the puff pastry – how much do I need to start with? I haven’t has a lot of experience with puff pastry so I’d appreciate any tips!

    1. deb

      Eleanor — The DuFour I buy comes in 14 ounce packages (or that’s what I read; their site says 1 pound, so that’s confusing) and works perfectly. You can bake the trimmings in long strips dusted with cinnamon sugar!

      Roger — Julia Child actually recommends the thinner slices. The advantage is that they cook more evenly, and faster. The disadvantage is that if slightly overcooked, they really fall apart. Plus, the best tarte tatin I’ve ever had was indeed in Paris, and had that gorgeous cobblestone-d looking top, so I prefer the bigger pieces. The separate caramel would definitely be a bummer, as you wouldn’t get to work the apple juices into it and make it an applecaramel.

      Patricia — I think you’re thinking of phyllo, which I agree can be stressful. Puffed pastry is a cinch.

      Rock Skipper — You’re killing me! I’ve already forgotten where that tarte tatin was from (that I mention to Roger) but it’s not on that list. The cafe… it’s mentioned in Paris to the Moon, if you’ve read it… The tatin was barely sweet. I found it shocking.

      Amy — Yes! I even complained on Monday to friends that I was going to start a toddler food blogger called “But last week it was his favorite food!” (A friend suggested the alternate title “I cannot eat that because the RICE and the BEANS are TOUCHING. Eww!” Heheh.) Next day, BAM, double ear infection. I never see these things coming.

  54. Sarah

    I have had this dish once, at a very posh restaurant for my 18th birthday. I have never forgotten it, I will be trying this, this weekend and I cannot wait.

  55. This looks fabulous! I love anything with apples in them, though I’m not sure how daring I am – I see this ending in a molten, caramel mess on the floor!

  56. Oh my, would you adopt me? I don’t cry, I don’t tax, I play really nice and I’m a huge helper in the kitchen. I’m so glad you made this… it gives me hope. I’ve tried making caramel sauce many times, only to fail repeatedly, and yes, perhaps have shed a tear with the outcome. There I said it, I do cry! Though, I swear one day I will make good caramel sauce!

  57. Deb, the tarte tatin looks fabulous. I will have to make an attempt at one the next time I have guests over. Do you have any scaling suggestions for an 8″ skillet? It’s the only oven-proof one I have…I’m still trying to build up my All-clad collection!

  58. leslie

    Your kitchen is adorable, your recipes are delicious – love your dish towels! They look so soft. Do you order them on-line?

  59. Beautiful! I more or less make the Dorie Greenspan version of Tarte Tatin, and it’s never failed me yet–but I do find that I need to cook the apples and sugar a LOT longer than suggested to get to the color of caramel I want.

  60. Apple arranging question: if I shift the apples around during stovetop cooking, should I arrange them into some pattern before I top them with pastry for the bake. Or will a haphazard layout not matter in the end?

  61. Cait

    Deb, how long will this last (not accounting for me just plowing into it)? I *love* apple tarte tatin, and I’m curious to see if this is something that I could make the day before, or if it’s a plowing-into-this-is-strongly-encouraged kind of dessert. What do you think?

  62. Once I made two tarte tatins in the same day for a dinner party. Because the first one burned, horribly.

    I am now a huge proponent of golden delicious apples in tarte tatin — in an apple pie, they turn to mush, but you need the apples to release a LOT of juice in order for the caramel not to burn. I bet it would work with another juicy apple, like honeycrisp or Gingergold, but I suppose that’s a project for next September.

  63. “In short: I choose Paris, instead. So the last few weeks have brought to our table weeknight roasted chicken, tiny gold potatoes, simple green salads, skinny green beans, white wine, weepingly delicious onion soup and a spate of apple tarte tatins.” This sounds so nice.

    1. deb

      For the 7-inch tarte tatin — You can pretty much halve everything. The full size will be a touch thicker, but the half-size will look like you see above.

      Jane — Wait, which word?

      Cait — Definitely best day-of. The puffed pastry will otherwise deflate under the apples and caramel.

      Gale — No pattern needed (or used, above). Just keep them all rounded side down and it will flip over nicely.

      Leslie — I grabbed a huge pack of white ones from Amazon recently. I had prettier ones at one point, but they consistently get wrecked and I never had enough. I like to be able to chuck one in the laundry if it gets even within 5 feet of raw chicken without worrying that I’ll run out before we do laundry again.

  64. Tarte tatin is one of my favorite desserts to make – it feels awesome when I can successfully do the big flip at the end. I learned how to make these from the Joy of Cooking, while working out in a hut in Maine. Our guests were really excited to have such a fancy dessert out in the woods in the middle of winter! I will certainly give your method a try.

  65. Not only does this tartine look gorgeous, I can’t believe that you have time to make all of that other stuff! Weepingly delicious onion soup? Tell me more! (Thumbing through Mastering now…)

  66. Sarah FL

    DEB! I love you for never giving up on difficult recipes! I am the same way. there is no way I will let food win!!
    You should consider making smittenkitchen APP. I have been a food follower for such a long time, especially yours. Keep up the delicious work. i can’t wait for your book!!
    Sunshine Love,

  67. I am so proud of you for persevering. I have had certain recipes that I have struggled with. However, some I’ve pledge to cook until I get it right! (like pie crusts – man am I spastic at those).
    Your final tarte tatin looks beautiful and how nice to be dreaming of springtime in France.

  68. Terri

    This looks AMAZING, Deb! But as I am a soup person more than a dessert person, I feel the need to ask if you will you be posting the recipe for the onion soup? Really, could I demand more of you when you are already stretched to the limit? :) I can relate, I have a three and five year old, so I feel for you with the sleep deprivation!

  69. man, if this is how you eat on bad weeks, i think i might pass out during a good stretch.

    i have never (clap hands to mouth) made a tarte tatin. not sure how that happened. “1 box dufour” dutifully added to shopping list…

  70. Lee Ann

    Even though the link to the beveled is fixed, I still can’t tell from the picture exactly where the bevel cut is supposed to be. Is it on the rounded side? The instructions say on the inside edge, but the picture looks to me like a regular quartered cored apple.

  71. JanetP

    Gah! Paris! and tarte tatin!


    Rock Skipper, go tothe cafe Le Square Trousseau, on rue Antoine Vollon, down the street from the Bastille metro station or right near Ledru Rollin stop. THE MOST FABULOUS tarte tatin (sorry for the shouting, it’s that good) and a really gorgeous, classic French interior. Take me with you?

  72. Isabelle

    The best apples here for me have been Braeburns, as they don’t require as much cooking, still keep their general shape, and have good flavor. I’m surprised at your post in the sense that I consider you stellar in the kitchen and this is a beginner dessert in our house, so how come it has not worked out for you until now? My son likes it when I make the caramel with cranberry juice, while my husband prefers the apples with a more ginger-spiked flavor and I like a lemon zest version. We have made it with homemade dough as well as Pepperidge Farm mediocre flaky pastry and Dufour. It’s all good every time, especially when we spike the whipped cream with cognac. It makes me laugh that this is for many (according to comments) a tricky fancy dessert, but for me making American muffins or cookies is way more daunting!

  73. Kelly

    I’m such a huge fan of Molly’s tarte tatin recipe from your website that I’m almost hesitant to try the new recipe!

  74. Marie M.C.

    Poor Jacob. Poor Mom. Sigh. What Julia taught me: Simple is best. Repeat. Simple is best. What you want to do when cooking is buy the very best ingredients and bring out their taste. And a 14 oz. package of frozen DurFour puff pastry costs $11 here in San Francisco. Oy vey. But it’s worth it. I recommend your trusty extra heavy cast iron pan. Love the idea of adding a splash of cognac to the whipping cream — maybe the apples, too?

  75. Caitlin

    Those of us who live near a Wegmans or Trader Joe’s know the joy of their puff pastry. Few ingredients, all pronounceable! I was wondering if you, or any of your readers, have tried the rough puff pastry a la Molly Stevens? I’ve printed the recipe numerous times but never executed. Perhaps this weekend…

  76. shivani

    Just an FYI, Ina Garten does a cake version that I’ve had great luck with. I bake it in a cast iron skillet and it caramelizes beautifully. Plus since it’s a cake and not puff pastry, you don’t have to worry about it getting soggy. (Added bonus is the ease of flipping it over, if it’s a well-seasoned skillet!)

  77. Julie

    My mind likes to travel back to Paris pretty frequently- especially when eating, cooking, or reading about classic French desserts. Your tarte tatin looks gorgeous! This is going straight to the top of my ‘to bake’ list.

  78. sarah

    has anyone tried making rough puff pastry? i found the recipe in an old penguin dessert cookbook. i never buy puff pastry as rough puff is SO easy. you make a dough with flour and water and lumps of cold butter then roll it into a strip, fold into three, quarter turn and roll out again. rest in fridge and do this again. it takes no time and you end up with true alchemy. delicious, unbelievably flakey and buttery and fresh! whenever you want it.

  79. Nat

    I’ve been wanting to try making tart tatin for a while and since we’re expecting rainy weather this weekend I think the time has come.

  80. Tarte Tatins are so yummy, and your’s looks just beautiful and delicious. Two nights ago, I made one with the last of this season’s Meyer Lemons and carmelized honey – tuned out nice. Yours is a classic with the apples and caramel and I definitely will be trying it soon!

  81. Jeannine

    Oh my, I wonder if this could be done with rhubarb? Apples are beginning to look a little sad, but my rhubarb is emerging from it’s slumber…I shall experiment for sure, as this looks amazing.

  82. Sandy

    Deb, I’m sorry in advance for bringing up the subject of your stove, but I LOVE it, sparkly and shiny and all, and would like to know what brand it is. My husband and I have a tiny camp that I need a new stove for and I haven’t seen one like yours around anywhere here (NE). Your stove looks like it has nicer grates than what I’ve seen so far. So when you have a moment…………thanks so much.

    1. deb

      Sandy — The label on it says Hotpoint. We rent our apartment, however. We didn’t choose it.

      Edan — Aaah! Thank you. Will fix now.

      Jeannine — I am sure rhubarb would be delicious but it needs muuuuch less cooking time. Maybe just 5 minutes on the stove before baking.

  83. Nadia

    I still have a dog-eared printout of Molly’s tart tatin recipe in my faithful book of handwritten recipes (it includes the ones I’ve made before and would definitely want to make again). But I never made it because I don’t have an ovenproof iron skillet. Now I have to made this one or Molly’s or both, especially if it’s okay to transfer from skillet to pan. Tart tatin is one of the world’s most beautiful desserts.

    By the way, I have it on trust that Nigella Lawson’s “Processor Puff Pastry” in her “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” is good. I read the recipe and it sounds just like Sarah’s rough puff pastry above.

  84. This tartin looks fabulous. I love French cuisine, and I think you’ve inspired me to make a trip to Paris soon. I absolutely love your recipes and pastries, but I hope you can make more whole grain and lower calorie recipes as well for us health food bloggers to enjoy as well :-)

  85. Do you think this the recipe would need tweaking if I used pears? I had the most sublime pear tart tatin years ago in Paris which I have dreamt about ever since. I may give it a go using this recipe and see what happens…

  86. I lived in France for 3 years, 2 of which were spend in Paris. I dream about this dessert. I’ve not found a recipe in the US that compares. We tend to make ours too sweet, adding cinnamon, and pulverizing the apples. This recipe looks great though – not too sweet, not to tart. I’m going to have to make this soon!

  87. I like the way you think! I choose Paris followed by a week or two in Provence ;)

    Making this tonight, maybe with a little cardamom sprinkled over the apples. Thanks for the beautiful, droolworthy photos as always!

  88. Reb

    Sigh. I just returned from Paris where I had a life changing Tarte Tatin at Poilane. Can’t wait to try my own version at home. Thanks for all the love, sweat and tears you put into this recipe. ;)

  89. That’s funny because my brain has been stuck in Italy, sitting at the Trevi fountain with an array of freshly sliced italian meats and cheeses resting on my lap. [sigh]

  90. I could certainly go for Paris and a cafe right about now. This time last year I was getting ready for a trip there! It was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to go back. I’m thinking I need to recreate this recipe so I can reminisce some more :)

  91. Shumaila

    I dont know if I want to try this. The fact that it took YOU ( u are a guru for me when it comes to food) multiple attempts to get it right, makes it a formidable task for a person like me. But then again with the legwork been done by you and so kindly shared here, I might be able to successfully attempt one! Thank you for sharing!

  92. Yum. I’m at the tail end of the winter produce season, so I no longer want to eat apples but this still looks divine! Maybe if I swap in pears I will be able to convince myself that that I’m not still eating winter produce.

  93. Deb,
    I know you don’t like to talk about your clean stove, but I just want to say thank you for the tip on how to get it clean. I clean with baking soda and vinegar and LOTS of scrubbing and it just doesn’t cut. I have some serious splatters and will pick up some soft scrub w/ bleach tonight (and then put my husband to work :->).


  94. Julie

    Hi Deb–Thanks for posting a recipe for tatin, one of my all-time favorites to make, but that I haven’t done for a while. I don’t post often here, but love your site. I have always had great success with a dog-eared page from one of the Silver Palate cookbooks. (Which I own from those early years before I sought recipes solely online.) Did you ever use those books? I think I stole my first one from my mom (sorry, Mom….) I find their tatin recipe a cinch, but will check yours out here, too. Yummo,

  95. Neera

    Deb, if I wanted to make this early in the day to serve in the evening, how would I do that? Keep in skillet and then before serving, warm over low heat to re-melt caramel before inverting onto serving plate? Or, invert on serving plate as you suggest after it comes out of the oven, and then in the evening reheat in the oven? I’m worried pastry will get soggy. Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  96. Sandy

    Hi, I love your site and have tried lots of things but never posted but now… I tried the tarte tatin and I think my stove must be too hot ( gas) because the caramel looked pretty dark even before I put it in the oven….then when I took it out and flipped it ( no burns…minor miracle for me) ta daaa …some of the apples were slighly past the caramelized state and more into the slightly burned state. Nothing that a side serving of vanilla ice cream couldn’t hide but my question is : what should the caramel look like before it gets put in the oven…still liquidy( is that a word?) or already a little thick and quite dark? Thanks !

    1. deb

      Sandy — Bummer it got a little overcooked. Mine is a moderately copper color (see: second to last photo in post) by the time I put it in the oven. A thinner frying pan or a more enthusiastically-heating stove could push it over the edge to too dark. Glad you enjoyed it just the same.

      Neera — It’s not a great do-ahead dish but if I were to try, I’d roll out, cut and chill the pastry round and keep it in the fridge until needed. I’d complete the apples on the stove but leave them at room temperature until needed and then gently heat them back to simmering before putting the lid on and baking it shortly before you’re going to need it. Once flipped out of the pan, it should be served immediately.

      Sense of Home — That’s exactly why I shared it. In my old apartment, I had the same stove and I tried e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I scrubbed until the enamel chipped off, I used Fantastik with bleach (which did nothing), natural cleaners, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, etc. Everything was an exhausting amount of labor and never got it clean. One drop of that stuff, and I don’t even have to scrub. Absolutely worth it to me.

      JJ — It is an All-Clad Stainless “French” or “omelet” skillet. Forget what they call it. It was a little treat for myself when I became obsessed with perfecting omelets a few months ago. Still working on it!

  97. Vanessa

    This is one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. I had some trouble getting the caramel to darken fast enough; I think I misunderstood your “palest of caramels” direction, and put the apples in when it was more the colour of gingerale. So I had to take the apples out when they were done, then finish darkening the caramel, and then put them back in. But the end result was seriously, seriously fantastic, and got big-time compliments from dinner guests who couldn’t believe I made it myself. Thanks!

  98. Isabel

    Oh my goodness, I made this last night and it has become the best dessert I have ever ever made, all thanks to your tips!!! It was heaven. Instead of whipped cream on top i opted for a slightly tangy vanilla yogurt dollop. Was magnifique!

  99. Even though I misunderstood the instructions – trust me – I succeeded with this and was very pleased with the results! However – despite rounding off the sugar content to say 360 grammes – figuring that those 6 grammes wouldn’t be missed ;) I found it very very sweet indeed. Not that I mind so much, but I was surprised. Was it because I (again, not reading the instructions) added all the lemon/sugar juice from the soaking?

  100. Rachel

    I made this on Friday for a group of friends and needless to say it was a great success. I have made tatin before but I was quite pleased with the simplicity of this recipe and how well it turned out. I was rather dubious when I tucked the puff pastry around the apples before baking–I thought that there was no way that it would come out of the pan let alone look nice. However, it came out of the pan and looked nice. I used a store bought puff pastry and used the two pan technique (I actually baked it in a pie pan) since I did not have an oven safe pan. The dessert was delicious!

  101. Moreplease

    I made this on Saturday exactly to your recipe and it was perfect in all it’s bronzed beauty. My husband and I enjoyed a large slice with double cream, while the kids (two sons aged ten and eight yrs old), fought over the lollies that fell out of the pinata from the birthday party the 8 yr old had been to that afternoon – they’re not fans of cooked fruit (yet). We sat in caramel-apple-cream bliss and weren’t fussed at all that we couldn’t coax the boys into trying a piece – more for us (except my brother-in-law dropped around and ended up taking a piece home with him). Thanks for the recipe Deb.

  102. Mrs Sweet

    Tatins have been my go to dessert for years…and to anyone who has never made one and is a bit daunted, they are a cinch but you need to do it a few times to get the feel. I always wait about 5 minutes before flipping them out…I find the small wait gives the caramel a bit of time to slightly thicken and so it is less likely to slosh over the sides. But if you wait too long then the whole thing can stick to the pan! I also do Pear tatin a lot…but Pears have more liquid in them and so one needs to back off on the amount of caramel one uses. All very delish.

  103. What a delightful recipe! This is by far my most beloved dessert (I eat it with my eyes closed at a glacial pace). I will certainly make this very soon!

  104. So weird! I’ve been on an Apple Tarte Tatin kick myself – even scoped out your guest post from Molly before I attempted it for the *first time ever* a couple of weeks ago!

    BUT ended up going with Nigella – both her Danish Puff Pastry (so easy!) & her Tatin recipe. Two dinner parties – two impressive apple-y finales. So I definitely recommend her puff pastry to other readers! And have to say, the fact that you’ve experienced this going awry so many times compared to my novice success with Nigella’s method to-date, now makes me a *little* nervous to try it any other way!

  105. christineK from Athens (Greece …not Georgia, USA!)

    Hello! I made the tarte tatin today and all I can say is that I can’t find the appropriate words to describe how enormously great it was! The best tatin I’ve ever made! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  106. Elizabeth

    Oh my gosh. This is BY FAR the favorite thing I have made this year. So absolutely easy and delicious, I can’t get over it!

  107. Zara

    My dad has always loved (and made) apple tarte tatin, so when I found a recipe for tomato tarte tatin in Bon Appetit, I had to try it as a perfect opportunity to put a twist on a family classic. It was possibly the best thing ever; I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed tomatoes so much.

  108. JJ

    Deb! I couldn’t get the caramel right. I tried three times and every time the sugar juts got lumpy and brown. It didn’t actually liquify. What am I doing wrong?!

  109. Laura

    Hi Deb, I’ve been stalking your page and making some of your recipes for the past month. They have all been amazing (mushroom bourguignon!!!), but this apple tarte was so awesome I had to comment. Even though I was a little scared throughout the time I was making it, I think I cooked the carmel slightly too much, but I just pulled out the little pieces that got stuck together. I diligently basted the apples for 25 minutes and then let it sit room temperature for about an hour while I finished roasting a chicken in the oven. I made my husband flip it and it came out so beautifully that I made him take lots of pictures of it. I didn’t have cream, so I sprinkled it with powdered sugar. Thanks for making this otherwise scary sounding recipe work so well!

  110. i was so prepared to have this fail, being my first attempt. but your instructions were PERFECT!! thanks for all the tips and hints that helped show me know how to make this.

  111. Danielle

    Hi Deb,
    I tried making this the other day but I ran into a problem. When I added the sugar to the melted butter is immediately turned into small pebbles of caramel. What did I do wrong? How do I prevent this from happening?


  112. Ryan

    I am looking for advice on a pasta maker/machine. my hubby and I use your site all the time! We make pasta at home, and usually just hand roll it out. However, it’s his 35th birthday and I am not sure where to even start. I know you are extremely busy, but if you have any advice off the top of your head, please fill me in. Or if anyone else reads this and has advice – give it to me!!

    Thanks so much for all the great recipes, can’t wait for the cookbook!!


  113. Kim

    So I learned the hard way that Fuji apples are a bad choice for this. After my disaster I did some googling and learned that they are not good baking apples because they are too juicy. Everything went well while on the stove and it looked a lot like your photos. When I took it out of the oven and flipped it onto the plate my caramel was a soupy mess and spilled all over the counter (read: sticky mess). The caramel soup deflated the puff pastry and made it kind of chewy and unappetizing. I kept the apples and caramel soup and smothered it with vanilla ice cream to cover the ugliness. It still tasted good and I’d be willing to try it again with a better apple choice next time. Oh well, lesson learned.

  114. Nina

    Your website is awesome! I just took my first bite of this and it is perfect. I was about to give up on the caramel since it was so lumpy, but right as i almost gave up, the sugar melted. the “caramel” stayed separate from some excess butter up until i added the apples. then it combined nicely. i would warn people that this might happen.

  115. Sarah

    Made this for my in laws and hubby last night – everyone loved it! It is time consuming but it was nice to have something to do while everyone chatted at our eat-in-kitchen table. Thank you for the delicious recipe!

  116. karina

    this recipie did not work out for me. my caramel turned into greasy mess! i tried it twice – the same story on both attempts. not sure what i did wrong, if anything…

  117. Made the half-size version of the tarte tonight for a dinner with friends (in an 8-inch All-clad fry-pan). It worked out splendidly–possibly better than what I’ve had out. For the puff pastry, I made my own rough puff (find it at, which seems to work just as well as the store-bought stuff.

  118. Fantastic recipe! I made this yesterday with a friend and it was lovely! I’m about to eat the leftovers for breakfast. Thank you so much for posting this. I always find the best recipes on your site!

  119. Grace

    Deb, thanks so much for this recipe. I made it for the first time last night and it was soo good. I have a temperamental stove but I finally found an element that allowed the caramel to simmer at the right temperature to cook the apples.

    It was a touch too sweet for me, and the different sizes of the apples I had cooked at slightly different rates, but it was so delicious.

  120. I had the same problem with the sugar and butter, melted the butter, added the sugar and it just wouldn’t melt…eventually it started to turn brown on the bottom of the sugars and I added the apples in. The apples seemed to help liquify the sugar and it all worked out just like you said!
    until I realized my puff pastry had been in the freezer too long…
    improvised with some pie dough. Definitely not the same but the apples were perfectly carmelized!
    Yet another Smitten Kitchen Success!! I sing your praises to just about everyone…

  121. Laura

    Deb, thanks for this recipe. I am currently living in Malawi, where we have a real dearth of decent restaurants (not to mention grocery stores), but we do have South African apples and frozen puff pastry, so I gave this a go, along with your ratatouille’s ratatouille for a french movie-night (“Heartbreaker”) dinner. Was so delicious, and allowed me to forget, if only for a bit, that I live in Africa far away from my husband and family. LOVE your website. Merci!!!

  122. Reet

    Kim, I agree with you that Fujis are a bad choice. I first made the tarte with Rome apples from the farmers’ market, and it was phenomenal. But my second attempt, with Fujis, failed because they were way too juicy and released too much liquid, in spite of the lemon/sugar treatment in the recipe. I, too, got a soupy caramel mess that was overly sweet–a contrast to the perfection I got the first time I tried the recipe. Interesting, since I seem to recall that Dorie Greenspan recommends Fujis for tarte tatin. Tonight I’m giving it a go with Granny Smiths, since I have a few handy.

  123. Deb, I have been a quiet admirer of your blog for at least a couple of years now. And Molly’s apple tart tatin I have also been making for a couple years. I have always enjoyed it more than apple pie as I always thought the crusts too dry and/or just couldn’t find one with the perfect balance of moist filling and flaky crust that blended just right. I really loved your new addition—the puffed pastry—who doesn’t love puffed pastry? But I’d also add a warning to those about to make this recipe–like a few others have already mentioned– that you must be patient and wait for the sugar to caramelize. I’m afraid I didn’t let mine cook long enough (was afraid of it burning) tho I thought it was “pale caramel” and so now (it is still amazing) but it just tastes too sweet. Deb, I believe from your recipe and comments you’re saying if we actually caramelize the sugar then it would taste perfect, and not feel “too sweet”.

    Thanks again for all the love and energy you put into this adorable site.

  124. Dani

    This is a terrific tarte tatin! I love that it has plenty of gooey caramel to cover those nice chunks of apple. I like a more substantial crust, as I think it supports the tarte a bit better and makes for less heartache when doing the dreaded flip. I’ve always made my tartes with a lighter standard sweet pie crust, and your recipe worked perfectly with my crust.

  125. Liz

    It has been a rainy yukky day here in Nova Scotia and what better thing to do than to commit to making a great (and I mean “great”) dessert. This Apple Tart Tatin was terrific. Yes it was a messy process!! but well worth the mess. I made it in my 7 inch cast iron fry pan … little shallow for the all the ooey gooey sauce so I might cut back the quantities just a little more. I also used Golden Delicious Apples with great results. When I make this again, I will try caramelizing a little more to get an even darker caramel colour and hopefully just a little less sweetness. I too was afraid of overcooking the apples and burning the caramel. I took Dani’s advise and used a more substantial crust so my “Flip” was effortless.

  126. Liz

    I just made this with a quick homemade puff pastry that came out better than any other quick homemade puff pastries I’ve tried before. I thought I’d post in case others wanted to make it too – it was very fast and very puffy!
    I used half wholewheat pastry flour, and gave it a few extra folds.
    Here’s a picture:
    (she didn’t get any).
    Hope it helps!

  127. MrsJourns

    Oh my gosh, this was sensational. I’ve made tatins before but never managed to achieve that real toffee like caramel. I followed your instructions to the letter and made it in my le creuset omelette pan. Can’t wait to make this again.

  128. m.

    Is it normal that when I melt the butter and add the sugar, 10 minutes after they both separate? Should I go on and add the apples?

  129. Maria

    I know this is an old recipe, but I just made this and it looks beautiful. I was going to say, though, there were three times there when I thought I was messing up. For example, the butter and the sugar were really granulated before the caramel started forming. I was about to give up then, and ended up adding a lot of butter. Then, the caramel formed and the butter separated. I freaked out again, but kept going. I’ve only tried the caramel so far, but I think that it might be too sweet? Maybe with the creme fraiche, it’ll get better. I was going to make the fanned apple one you just posted recently but this was simpler! Thanks for helping me make a gorgeous dessert for my grandparents, which I’m really hoping they’ll love!

  130. Jieun

    fyi, don’t freak out like i did initially when

    1. there was a film of melted butter atop grainy/partially melted sugar in the beginning, because they will mix better once the sugar fully melts.
    2. the caramel seizes when you put in the apple slices. the caramel kept coating my spoon and hardening, which got me really worried. but once the apples release enough liquid and the chunky caramel melts into the apple juice, the final butter/sugar/apple juice will come together to a smooth velvety caramel.

    mine looked nothing like deb’s pictures at both of those stages, but patience was the answer!

  131. Hannah

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you!! I just made this and even though I had to move from the pan to a dish before the oven part it turned out amazingly!!! So easy, and totally delicious!!! Yum! X

  132. Well, I’ve finally made this! It’s a fabulous dessert! First time I made it with just apples, second time I added strawberries in the center, surrounded by apples, and cooked them in caramel sauce, too. The strawberry flavor mixed in with the apple flavor and caramel – just amazing! The color of caramel and the apples was also a little bit on the red side because of the strawberries.

  133. Jonathan

    I just made this dessert and it turned out great. I swapped out the puff pastry for a yogurt pastry crust. Great posting for a dessert that can be frustrating to perfect

  134. Lauren

    Oh boy. I’ve made this before and it turned out great, but I just tried twice to make the caramel in a cast iron pan in medium humidity and it was a huge fail both times. Just in case anyone else is trying it in similar conditions…

  135. Samantha

    Hi Deb,
    I am a culinary art student, and I was on the hunt for a great recipe for an apple tarte tatin for my a la carte class. Let me say that this recipe was lovely! We did this version in small tart pans. We buttered the bottom and layered it with the apples (cut into slices of course) and topped it with the puff pastry. The only thing we added to the recipe was some cinnamon and nutmeg. Thank you so much for sharing.

  136. Stephanie

    Have you ever waited between cooking the carmel & apples and then doing the crust to put it in the oven? Another tarte tatin recipe suggested waiting 30min before putting on pastry dough and baking – could you possibly wait longer in between?? Thanks!!

  137. Courtney

    First off, thank you for all of your amazing recipes! My dad and I make your nutella crepe cake for special occasions and love your other dessert recipes from the site and from your book. My dad made this tarte tonight and followed your recipe to a T. We tarte tatin aficionados to say the least and love to try different techniques. The apples, however, came out pretty mushy (think borderline applesauce). He cooked the apples in a cast iron skillet over a gas stove for 25 minutes until the caramel looked just like your pictures. He then baked for the full 20 minutes. You cannot even see the borders of the apples because they are so cooked. Is the intent for the apples to turn out this way, or should they be more firm? We cannot decide if we cook less on the stove or in the oven to achieve this. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  138. Courtney

    Deb – We used Granny Smiths bought here in San Luis Obispo, CA. Usually, this variety seems to hold its shape, so I’m not sure where we went wrong. Is it possible we cooked the apples too long in the caramel, or over too hot a flame? But they did look like your photos…so not sure what happened.

  139. MR

    After researching almost two dozen recipes, I decided to use this one. It surpassed my expectations and impressed everyone. I added a generous sprinkle of fleur de sel into the caramel right before adding the apples and it was delicious. I also inadvertently waited almost an hour before putting it in the oven (was sidetracked cooking the rest of the meal). It sat forgotten on a back burner, but suffered no adverse impact at all. Excellent recipe and can’t wait to make it again.

    1. deb

      Julien — I’m not sure, but I suppose if you had the right volume (not sure what size you had in mind). The apples must be caramelized on the stove, though.

  140. Carrie

    Fantastic success! I cooked the apples and caramel in a 9-inch cast iron skillet and then let them cool, and brought the skillet along with the puff pastry already rolled out and cut to fit to a dinner party. Several hours later I reheated the skillet on the stove for about 10 minutes to warm the apples and caramel, then topped it with the pastry and baked at 400 for 25 minutes.

  141. Linda

    I’m new at making tarte tatin ( first one was a failure). Have read over several different recipes but what is the purpose of the lemon juice or Apple cider vinegar (in one recipe). How do you keep the caramel sauce from turning hard upon cooling.

  142. Christine

    After four failed tatins I’ve discovered your recipe and I’m trying it next. My biggest problem has been cooking the apples to the correct doneness. Twice I’ve made applesauce Tarte and once the apples were way underdone. Question:
    When coooking the apples on the stove, what do you look for when determining when to stop cooking and start baking?

    1. deb

      It’s so tricky; it’s not just you. I still have trouble getting mine perfectly cooked each time. Some additional things I’ve learned: the kind of apple matters a lot. Pink ladys and granny smiths (some, not all, golden delicious work too) are the least likely to turn to mush, and the apple sauce effect is often (unless wildly overcooked) just about the kind of apple. You want them a good 2/3 of the way cooked by the time they go in the oven. You’ll want to use more apples than will fit in the pan to begin because they shrink and will eventually settle into one layer. Once the apples are, say, half-cooked, you can pause and let them cool in the pan for a while, so long as they’re still lukewarm going into the oven. This helps them soften more and keeps your pastry from beginning to melt before it hits the oven. (Also allows you to finish it at the last minute for a from-the-oven dessert.) It can help to cut a vent in the pastry so it doesn’t trap too much steam. I had hoped to post an update to this recipe with many more times this past fall but it might need to wait until next apple season; I’m still practicing.

      1. Christine

        Wow, that’s a gorgeous (Instagram link) Tarte! That is my aspiration.

        So I did try out your recipe a couple days ago and it was very promising, and generally very good except for the liquid issue. I ended up with a ton of liquid in the pan at the end of baking. Granted, I could have baked the puff a little longer but it wouldn’t have helped with that volume. I ended up pouring out as much as I could before everting (and drinking the runoff), and then the tarte was very good, but with a slightly soggy bottom. The apples were the perfect texture and the flavor was fantastic. I was using Fujis because that’s what the store had at the moment. Maybe Fujis have more liquid than your average apple? I even macerated and left them uncovered in the fridge for two days. The texture held up extremely well.

        Btw, two times I’ve gotten applesauce with granny Smiths. How disappointing! Now I’m reevaluating everything I thought I knew about apples.

  143. Anna

    Deb this looks great, I’ve been looking fir a good tarte Tatum recipe for ages! I’ve only got an 8″ skillet though, and I couldn’t figure out what maths I’d need to do to scale it down. Could I just devide all quantities by 9 and then multiply by 8, or does it not work like that? Also would I need to adjust cooking times? Thanks :-)

  144. Laura

    I’ve been a huge fan of your site for a while now, and I decided to give this recipe a try! Unfortunately, when I added the sugar to the melted butter, the mixture split. I tried to stir the two together until it turned a light caramel, but I ended up with caramelized sugar chunks and browned butter. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I ultimately ended up using a recipe with different butter to sugar ratios and was overall a much less fussy recipe. I’m sure yours is delicious, it just didn’t work out for me.

  145. Man, am I glad to read that I’m not the only one who’s made zillions of tarte tatins and been unable to get Julia’s recipe to work out. I’ll have to try your method next. And maybe invest in a cast iron skillet, since i think that would also solve some problems.

  146. Frédérique

    To all of you who, like me a few hours ago, are frantically reading the comment section hoping to find an explanation for the weird pale and clumpy mass that should be your caramel: you have to trust the process!!!
    I followed the recipe to the letter and ended with a beautiful shiny amber colored tatin. It was so beautiful I wish I could post a picture. My “caramel” clumped and separated but I just soldiered on and added the apples anyway and lo and behold everything went together to form a beautiful apple caramel. I did end up with a little too much caramel, the apples absorbed it all in the oven but the end result was a little too sweet for my taste, although I did use 5 apples instead of 6. A beautiful recipe as always.

  147. Emese

    This is one of the dishes that seems easy but for me super hard. They never turn out this nice. Usually the apples don’t stick to the dough or the caramel sticks to the bottom of the pan. Haven’t figured out where I go wrong.

  148. Heather Giannandrea

    I’ve made this twice, and both times the apples ended up SWIMMING in caramel. I tried to pour some off, which was messy to say the least. For me, this is a difficult recipe to get right.

  149. Katie

    My first attempt was successful, thanks to you! I used Molly’s pastry recipe, because I didn’t have puff pastry.
    Clear, concise instructions. I used my creuset skillet, and the flip was nerve wracking, but it came out looking great!
    My dinner guests descended on it like a pack of wild animals so I didn’t get any photos, will have to remake :)

    1. deb

      Yes but I’d rewarm them a little before adding it. You don’t want them boiling hot but if they’re very cold, the pastry will bake before they’ve warmed through and finished cooking.