Upside-down cakes are well known. But upside-down apple tart? Yep, there is such a thing. And if stories are to be believed, this lovely sweet dish was born as the result of a kitchen accident.
In the 1880s, there was a hotel in the south of Paris called Hotel Tatin. It was run by Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin, but it was to Stéphanie that the invention of the upside-down apple tart is attributed.
Some say that on a day when Stéphanie was feeling terribly overworked and tired, she accidentally left apples caramelizing in a pan. In a panic, she tried to salvage it by throwing a dough crust over the apples and putting the pan in the oven.
Amazingly, the hotel guests liked the dessert so much that it became a signature dish of Hotel Tatin.
Tarte Tatin (Upside Down Apple Tart)
For the crust
- 4 Granny Smith apples peeled cored and cut into halves (I had an extra half that I couldn’t fit into the pan)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup butter chilled
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make the crust
- In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt and sugar.
- Add the butter and shortening.
- Cut the butter and shortening into the flour (I do this by rubbing with my fingers) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add ice cold water, little by little, mixing as you go until the dough can be gathered into a ball. The dough should NOT be sticky.
- Roll the dough into a thick disc (placing it between sheets of non-stick paper helps).
- Wrap the dough in cling film and keep in the fridge.
Make the apple filling
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Make the crust but do not roll out yet. Wrap the dough in cling film and keep in the fridge.
- In an eight-inch oven-proof frying pan, boil the sugar with one-fourth cup of water. Without stirring to avoid the formation of crystals (swirling is allowed), boil over medium-high to high heat until thickened and amber colored.
- Drop the apple halves, flat side down, on the hot syrup (use enough apple halves to cover the entire bottom of the pan).
- Sprinkle the cinnamon powder on the tops of the apple halves.
- Continue cooking over medium-low heat for about seven minutes.
- Flip the apples over and cook for another two minutes.
Assemble the tarte Tatin
- Take the crust dough out of the fridge.
- Roll between two sheets of non-stick baking paper to form a circle that is about ten inches in diameter or two inches larger than the rim of the frying pan in which you are going to bake the tart.
- Take your pan with the apple filling.
- Cut the cold butter into small pieces and scatter over the apples.
- Remove the top sheet of paper from the rolled crust dough, lift the crust by holding the corners of the bottom paper then invert onto the pan. Peel off the paper.
- Push the edges of the dough into the pan. Fold any excess. DO NOT cover the rim of the pan. All of the crust should be inside the pan. It’s like forming an inverted shallow bowl over the apples.
- Bake the tarte Tatin for 25 minutes.
Serve your tarte Tatin
- Take a plate that is larger than the pan. Place the plate over the pan then flip the pan upside-down to invert the tart onto the plate.
- Cut the tart into six portions. Top with a dollop of whipped cream or top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve.