Tarte Tatin Pomme (Apple Tarte Tatin)

What’s not to love about Tarte Tatin Pomme (aka apple tarte tatin)? A tender pate sucree crust, deeply caramelized apples that melt in your mouth, and a touch of vanilla bean for added flavor. The more experience I gain as a professional baker, the more I realize that a great dessert is not about complexity. It’s about simplicity and using high-quality ingredients.

This is a classic French dessert known for its upside-down caramelized apple glory, and is a true showstopper. If you want to master this classic dessert, look no further. All the details and recipe info are below.

tarte tatin pomme on a white plate

What’s in Apple Tarte Tatin?

Tarte tatin pomme (aka apple tarte tatin) includes caramel, apples, and a delicate sweet crust. It uses simple ingredients, but it’s incredibly delicious and flavorful. Perfect for autumn. Perfect anytime, really.

Pate sucree is a traditional French tart crust. It’s very easy to make because it uses the creaming method, just like cookies. It’s slightly sweet, making it the perfect complement to the caramelized apples. You can use this crust to make these delicious fruit tartlets as well.

close up of caramelized apples on the apple tarte tatin

What Kind of Apple Should I Use?

This question is one of the most important questions for any apple dessert. The type of apple plays a key role in the end result. Use the wrong type of apple, and you’ll have a disappointing result.

The best types of apples for baking and cooking include Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Braeburn, and Golden Delicious apples.

For this recipe, I chose Honeycrisp apples because of their pleasing flavor. While Granny Smith apples work well for apple pie, I chose Honeycrisp apples because they are milder in flavor.

tarte tatin pomme

How to Make the Caramel for Tarte Tatin

Caramel can feel intimidating to make, but once you know the basics, it’s easy to master.

Here’s a basic rundown of how to make the caramel.

  1. Heat the sugar in a 10-inch skillet on medium-low (don’t stir).
  2. Swirl the caramel as it melts to help the sugar dissolve. Keep heating until it turns a deep amber color.
  3. Add the butter to the caramel and whisk.
  4. Stir in vanilla bean paste and salt.
  5. Allow the caramel to cool off the heat while preparing the apples.

Best Way to Arrange Apples in the Pan

This is so subjective and up to you. But here are a few tips you can follow if you want to arrange them in a beautiful pattern.

First, place the rounded sides of the apple down in the caramel. This is the part of the dessert that will be showing once the tarte tatin pomme is flipped over, so we want the beautiful round part nestled in the caramel.

For a beautiful concentric design, arrange an outer ring of apple slices and then a center ring of apple slices. Sometimes, the apples are bigger and won’t form into a ring in the middle of the pan, so fit them to make an inner circle.

Best Pan for this Dessert

One of the most important aspects of making caramel and tarte tatin pomme is choosing the right pan. Using a poor-quality pan will result in issues during the caramel-making process, and we don’t want that, do we?

Here are my recommendations:

Moule Tarte Tatin

For a classic tarte tatin pomme, use a moule tarte tatin like this. This is a classic pan used in France and has a handle on each side.

slice of apple tarte tatin

Triply 10″ Skillet

If you don’t want to invest in a special pan tarte tatin pan for this dessert, use a 10-inch skillet that is at least triply. If you use a lower-quality pan, the caramel will have more issues. I know this from personal experience!

Lower-quality pans don’t conduct heat evenly, and caramel often scorches or develops hot spots. I own an All-Clad skillet similar to the one I recommend, and it works beautifully for many desserts, as well as for cooking savory foods. All-Clad lasts a lifetime, so in my opinion, it’s worth the investment.

If you want something less expensive but still good quality, try this pan.

Cast Iron Skillet

Lastly, you can use a 10-inch cast iron skillet. If you choose this option, know that it’s a little more difficult to work with. Many people use cast iron skillets for this dessert, but there are some drawbacks. In addition, it’s more difficult to see the color of the caramel against the black color of the pan, which means it’s not as easy to tell when it’s done.

Flipping a heavy cast iron skillet over to remove the tarte is more difficult as well, so this isn’t my go-to pan for this dessert.

Don’t Use Nonstick Pans

Nonstick pans aren’t great for caramel making, so steer clear. That’s it.

How to Make Tarte Tatin Pomme

  1. Make pate sucree (sweet pastry dough) and roll it out to a 12-inch circle. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Cook sugar in a 10-inch skillet on medium-low heat until melted and dark amber in color. Swirl the caramel to help melt the sugar.
  2. Remove the caramel from the heat and add the butter, vanilla bean paste, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Peel and core apples, then cut into quarters.
  4. Arrange apples with rounded sides down in the caramel until the pan is full.
  5. Return to heat and cook for 15-20 minutes on medium-low or until apples are slightly soft.
  6. Place cold dough on top of the apples and gently tuck in around the edges. Make five small slits on top of the dough.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes at 350 F.
  8. Let cool for 30 minutes, then invert onto a platter, slice, and serve with vanilla ice cream.
upside down apple tart

How to Tell When Your Tarte is Done

The last thing you want is for your tarte tatin pomme to be underbaked. But as long as you follow the directions, this shouldn’t be a problem.

You know the tarte is fully baked when the crust is nice and golden brown on top.

Once the crust is golden, remove it from the oven and cool for 30 minutes before inverting it.

Can I Make Tarte Tatin ahead of time?

In short, no. Do not make your tarte tatin pomme ahead of time because this dessert is best made and eaten the same day. Naturally, the juices from the apples and caramel soften the crust over time. It’s still good to eat the second day, but it’s not as pretty, and the crust is softer.

You can prep the dough a few days in advance and keep it chilled in the fridge but don’t make the tarte until the day you need it.

This dessert is truly best when it’s still warm and fresh from the oven.

Troubleshooting Tarte Tatin

While this dessert is simple in nature, bakers sometimes run into a few issues. Let’s look at the most common problems so you know how to troubleshoot like a pro.

The caramel is runny and juicy.

I have experienced this personally, and it’s not fun. To avoid this problem, be sure to cook the apples uncovered for 15-20 minutes in the caramel so their natural juices release and evaporate.

If you can see a lot of juice moving under the crust after baking, place the pan on the stove and turn on the burner to medium. Cook and boil until more of the juices evaporate from underneath the crust.

The apples aren’t cooked through.

Although not as common, this can still happen. As long as you cook the apples in the caramel for 15-20 minutes, they will naturally begin to soften.

They will finish cooking in the oven. If the apples are still completely hard when they go into the oven, they will not bake as fast as the crust, and this can cause the apples to be underdone.

There is no way to reverse this once you flip the tarte tatin pomme, so be sure to cook the apples until they begin to soften.

The caramel tastes bitter.

This can happen for a couple of reasons. First, poor-quality cookware can result in bitter-tasting caramel. In my baking program, a few bakers experienced this until they switched to better-quality pans.

Second, cooking the caramel until it’s almost burnt can create a bitter flavor. Cook the caramel until it’s the color of a brown paper bag or the color of almond skins.

Still need help?

In my baking course, “The Art of Tarts,” I teach bakers the ins and outs of making this very dessert. Learn more here so you can become a pro at making tarts.

Other Tarts You’ll Love

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Tarte Tatin Pomme (Apple Tarte Tatin)

tarte tatin pomme on a white plate

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Make this Tarte Tatin Pomme with the simplest of ingredients. Flavorful apples, rich caramel, a hint of vanilla bean, and a delicate crust that brings it all together.

  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chill Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Tarts
  • Method: Creaming
  • Cuisine: French

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Shortcrust Pastry)

  • 113 g unsalted butter, room temperature (65 F)
  • 55 g powdered sugar
  • 30 g egg, room temp
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (Morton’s)
  • 135 g all-purpose flour
  • 30 g cake flour (can sub. all-purpose if you can’t find cake)

For the Caramelized Apples

  • 175 g granulated sugar
  • 71 g unsalted butter (5 Tbs)
  • 45 large Honeycrisp apples (or similar apples, like Honeygold, Braeburn, Fuji)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla bean paste, or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean (optional), can use 1 tsp vanilla extract instead
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for serving

Instructions

To Make the Pate Sucree

  1. Cream the butter and sugar on low in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. 
  2. Add the egg and mix on low. The butter will appear curdled but will come together in the next step.
  3. Combine the flours and salt in a bowl, and add them to the mixer on low in 2 additions until combined. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a flat round disk.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to 12 inches in diameter. If your dough is too sticky or warm (which sometimes happens in warm kitchens), wrap the disk of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll it out to 12 inches, cover, and refrigerate again for at least 30 minutes.

To Caramelize the Apples

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C)
  2. Begin making the caramel. Add the sugar to a 10-inch metal or cast iron skillet and turn the burner between medium and medium-low.
  3. Do not stir. This can cause the sugar to crystallize. Allow the sugar to slowly melt, and swirl the caramel around as it liquifies. Once melted, remove from heat and add the butter. Whisk until melted. 
  4. Put the pan back on the heat, and allow the caramel to cook for a couple of minutes to ensure there are no sugar granules left.
  5. Remove caramel from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  6. While the caramel is cooling, prepare the apples. Core, peel, and cut the apples into quarters. Carefully arrange the apple slices with the rounded sides down in the caramel. Be careful not to burn your hands, as the caramel is very hot.**
  7. Pack the skillet full of apples. They will soften and shrink some as they cook, so add more than you think you need.
  8. Return the pan to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the apples for about 15 minutes, or until they begin to soften and the juices dissipate some. Don’t stir.
  9. Remove the skillet from the stove, and place the cold dough on top. Gently tuck the dough between the edges of the apples and the pan, and allow the excess dough to fold toward the middle of the pan. Make 5 slits on top for air vents.
  10. Place the tarte tatin pomme on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until deeply golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes so the caramel sets up and is less runny.
  12. Place a serving dish on top of the pan, and flip them over together so that the tarte tatin is now upside down with the apples showing on top. Use a towel or oven mitts to protect your hands when you do this.
  13. Eat warm with ice cream, whipped cream, pecans, or as is.
  14. This dessert is best eaten the same day but can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days.

Notes

This is a Baker Street Society Recipe.

** Your caramel will harden as it sits during the apple prep. Don’t worry, this is normal. Once you turn the heat back on to cook the apples, the caramel will soften and cook properly.

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