The Everyday Gourmet

Fancy French pie

Oct. 27, 2011

By Kim Dannies


A favorite special occasion dessert is Apple Tarte Tatin, a succulent upside-down apple pie. Officially known as La Tarte Desmoiselles Tatin, this classic is named for the French sisters who created it in 1898.

Tarte Tatin is extraordinary due to the intensity of flavor from caramelized sugar, apples, and butter. A fundamental of French pastry cooking is “color equals flavor,” so don’t be alarmed if your caramel topping is quite dark — that is considered très bien!



In a food processor, combine 4 cups white pastry flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 cup chilled butter, cut into small chunks. Pulse quickly until coarse flour forms. With the motor running, add ½ cup cold water and let the dough form. Add small drops as needed to incorporate all of the flour. The dough must pull cleanly off the sides of the working bowl. Remove the pastry and wrap in plastic wrap, store in the fridge.



Peel and core 12 to 14 golden delicious apples; slice a thin layer off each bottom to even the base and then slice each apple in half. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On the stovetop, in a large (12-by-14-inch) cast iron pan or deep copper tart pan, melt 1 cup butter with 2 cups sugar. Turn off heat. In a concentric circle arrange the apples, standing them tightly against each other — back-to-belly style — until the pan is filled.

Caramelize the apples on medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until dark syrup bubbles up and you can smell the cooked sugar. Let the apples cool slightly, then roll out the pastry and fit on top of the apples, working quickly and tucking in the edges. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Cool tart 10 minutes; gently unmold tart onto a round serving platter. Don’t panic if all of the apple does not release! Simply use a spatula to re-paste the apples, scraping up as much color as possible. As the tart cools it will solidify to perfection. Serve slices with a dollop of crème fraîche; serves 14 to 16.


Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to