Two sisters, Carolina (1847-1911) and Stéphine Tatin (1838-1917), from Lamotte-Beuvron, a small village in the Loire Valley of France, are considered the creators of this wonderful tart. The sisters owned and ran the Hotel Tatin. The elder sister, Stéphanie, dealt with the kitchen and though she was a fine cook, some say she was not the brightest bulb. Her specialty was apple tart – crusty, caramelized goodness the results of which melted in the mouth. One day during a particularly busy rush, Stéphanie realized she had loaded the fruit and other ingredients in the pan without the pastry. Having no choice and lots of hungry mouths to feed she threw the crust on top and hoped for the best. By now the crowds were howling so she yanked her creation from the oven and plated it without giving it time to cool and added cream. The result – amazing! The dessert came to be known as, tarte des demoiselles Tatin (the tart of two unmarried women named Tatin). Why Carolina received half of the credit remains a mystery!
Without further adieu – Tarte Tatin
6 large apples (such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious), peeled, cored and quartered
1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, thawed
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
juice of half a lemon
1 pinch sea salt
- Heat the oven to 375 F. Sprinkle the lemon juice evenly onto the apples to prevent them from discoloring.
- Place sugar in a cast-iron skillet and melt over medium heat.
- Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a light butterscotch color and its temperature reaches 320 degrees (measure with a candy thermometer). Turn off the heat. The temperature will continue to rise.
- Once the temperature reaches 350 degrees, whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Make sure each piece is incorporated before adding the next, then add the salt.
- Cover the caramel with the apple slices, starting in the center and overlapping in a spiraling. Turn the heat back on and cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir to make sure the apples are cooking evenly, but be sure to return the pieces to the original configuration.
- Cover the pan with the puff pastry. Tuck in the edges around the apples and prick the pastry with a fork.
- Bake until the edges are deep amber in color and the pastry is puffed and golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate larger than the pan serve immediately.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes