Classic Tarte Tatin

Classic Tarte Tatin

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Which apple variety to select for a recipe depends on how the fruit will be used. Apples fall into three broad groups. Sauce apples, such as the Cortland and McIntosh, collapse readily, turning into applesauce after little more than a brief simmer. Baking apples, such as Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty and Pink Lady, hold their shape beautifully for up to an hour in the oven. Any baking apple may be used in this recipe. All-purpose apples, like the Granny Smith, have a texture when cooked that falls between tender and firm and might also be used here.


For the dough:

  • 1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut
      into 3⁄4-inch pieces
  • 3 Tbs. cold vegetable shortening, cut into
     3⁄4-inch pieces
  • 3 Tbs. very cold water

For the filling:

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 5 Golden Delicious or other baking or all-purpose
      apples, about 2 lb. total, peeled, quartered
      lengthwise and cored
  • Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)


To make the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl and pulse to blend. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until reduced to 1D2-inch pieces. Add the water a little at a time and pulse until the dough just begins to come together in a rough mass.

To make the dough by hand, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and shortening and toss to coat with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the pieces of fat into the flour mixture until they are no larger than small peas. Dribble the water over the mixture and toss with a fork until the dough is evenly moist and begins to come together in a rough mass.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into a 5-inch disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

Lightly dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the chilled dough into a 12-inch round, a scant 1D4 inch thick. Lift and turn the dough several times as you roll to prevent sticking, and dust the surface and the rolling pin with additional flour as needed. Use a dough scraper or icing spatula to loosen the pastry if it sticks. Trim the dough into an 11-inch round. Slide a rimless baking sheet under the dough, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

To make the filling, set a 10-inch straight-sided, ovenproof fry pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat and heat the butter. When it melts, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the butter and continue cooking until the sugar melts and turns amber colored, 3 to 4 minutes. Shake and swirl the pan frequently to redistribute the sugar for even melting and caramelization.

Arrange the apples, core side up, in the caramel in a snug, even layer. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the apples are just tender, about 15 minutes. The caramel will bubble up around the apples. Remove the pan from the heat.

Uncover the pastry round. When the bubbling has subsided, slide both hands under the pastry round and carefully place it on top of the apples, tucking in the edges and being careful not to burn your fingers. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Place a large flat serving plate upside down on top of the pan and invert the pan and plate together. Lift off the pan. Slice and serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Simon & Schuster, 2002).