The reputation of the apple tarte Tatin is not based on it being the finest or the most delicate of French patisserie. This upside down caramelized apple tart or “gateau renverse” was invented in the late 19th century by two sisters at the Hotel Tatin in a small village in the Sologne region.
Tart apples, sugar, and butter are the main ingredients. Choose your favorite tart, crisp apple. You want the apples to be flavorful and you don’t want them to fall apart during the caramelizing and baking process. You can choose to peel the apples or not. I used Jazz apples and peeled them. I purchased a frozen puff pastry dough, rather than making my own, to blanket the apples. You could also use a pie crust dough. I prefer the flakiness and crispness of the buttery puff pastry and the fact that I did not have to make the dough!!! I love shortcuts!
If you have a 9″ cast iron skillet, it is the perfect size to make this dessert. The skillet can also go directly from the stove to the oven. After peeling the apples, place them in the skillet with the butter and sugar. I did add a pinch of cinnamon, but the traditional tarte does not typically use cinnamon. The most challenging part of the tarte Tatin is flipping it from the hot skillet to the platter. The caramel will be in a liquid form when hot, so you must try to “renverse” or turn the tarte upside down onto the plater without burning yourself or spilling the best part, the caramel.
In France, the apple tarte Tatin is served without any garnishes. Pure apples, caramel sauce, and pastry.
However, I could not resist serving my tarte Tatin with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s hard to resist the combination of a warm fruit dessert straight from the oven with a creamy pool of melting vanilla ice cream. Fresh whipped cream would also be a tasty accompaniment. Bon Appétit.