Tarte Tatin for Judy


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               My friends Judy and Yair                                                         Judy Yair and Etienne Hugel Chez moi

My friend Judy Chang is a food and wine Junkie of the 4th  kind. She’s always on the look for the Best in Wine and Food wherever she is, and she gets around A LOT!!! She is almost “obsessed” with food and wine, follows the best of the rest in each category in all 5 continents, relentlessly guzzling and drinking her way to oral and nasal senses heaven.

She is an American of aristocratic Chinese decent (Taiwanese), with a Jewish Israeli Chutzpa – (Yiddish word that can’t really be translated but is something between “outrageous”, “insolence” or “audacity”  “impudence” or “cheekiness”) this is where her charm lies and usually acts as a door opener, she finds her Aladdin Caves of food or wine and opens them with the right command, but one day she will say “Iftah ya simsim” (“Open sesame”) in a wrong place or at the wrong time she might be faced with the “Forty Thieves”…(Ali Baba is the good guy)

In short She Loves Wine, Food, Wine & Food, Food & Wine and anything in between, still she prefers the best of what Chinese, Japanese and French cuisines have to offer. She is more beautiful than any of the most beautiful dishes she ever had (and she’s had quit a few…) and she is Soledad Bleu 😦

 She wrote to me recently:

Dearest Amir,

You need to get to NYC and teach the Spotted Pig (Michelin) how to make a proper tarte tatin!!  Dono what’s going on here but its too soft and floury and quite unedible!!! It’s more like a darn fruit cake/half ass scone! (She’s a bit biased in favor of my cooking I guess) we all know the disappointment of getting something which is just not IT.

Since I cannot get to NYC right away or in the very near future all those concerned will have to do with this post.

Tarte Tatin is basically (as you know…), an upside-down caramelized fruits tart.  (The fruits in the original recipe were apples)

Tales of origin

Some claim that Tarte Tatin was first created by accident by the cook, Stéphanie Tatin at  Hotel Tatin. The hotel was run by the sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France, (150 km South of Paris), sometime during the 1880. sister Stéphanie Tatin, who was in charge of cooking at the hotel, started to make a traditional apple pie as part of her daily chores, but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning caramel, she tried to rescue the “dessert of the day” by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, and put the pan in the oven for the pastry to bake, after the pastry was baked properly she turned over the tart, and served it hot from the oven. She was astonished not only to find a pleasing result but also to learn that most of the hotel guests requested a second helping.

It must be said that the concept of the “upside down tarts” was not a new one. Chef patissier M.A. Carême (The King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings) already mentions glazed gâteaux renversées adorned with apples from Rouen in his glorious cook book “Patissier Royal Parisien” in 1841.



 Originally, Tarte Tatin was made with two regional apple varieties: Reine des Reinettes (King of the Pippins), and Calville. But my choice of apples is Granny Smith or Cox which are hard and will hold their shape while cooking, and tangy and sour enough to balance the sweetness of the caramel (toffee). “Toffee is basically sugar and butter, Caramel is sugar and cream or milk, with butter occasionally in the mix.”

Tarte Tatin can be made with other fruits or vegetables such as pears, pineapple, and even tomatoes or onions and leeks. As for the pastry top/bottom the Larousse’s recipe opts for shortcrust which is in my mind the downfall of all those attempting this simple dish, my pastry of choice and the only pastry suitable is puff pastry which is certainly NOT the pastry used at the Tatin Hotel. (I’ve learned the basic ideas for this recipe, ages ago from the award winning recipe Pear Tarte Tatin – tarte tatin de poire  by Marco Pierre White voted as the best dessert of one year during the 90’s) I must admit I use less than half the recommended butter and sugar and simplified the method to fit home cooking. (and it works!!!!)

For a Tatin dish 28cm diameter serves 6-7 people:

6-7 green apples: a mix of Granny Smith & Cox is best

100g Demarara sugar

70g butter + 30g butter cut to dots for spreading on top of the apples

1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground cinnamon

A 20 cm square of best ready-made butter puff pastry


  1. Core and peel the apples and cut into quarters (keep in cold water with a squeeze of half a lemon, can be prepared well in advance)  (if using pears core peel and cut in half)
  2. Melt the butter in the Tatin dish on low heat making sure not to burn the butter and sprinkle most of the demarara sugar on top. Crowed the apples as much as possible (round side down core side up), no need to arrange the fruits in any particular order the apples will “arrange” themselves. Turn the heat slightly up and allow the sugar to start bubbling.
  3. Dust the puff pastry (room temperature) and kneed to a circle 5 cm larger than your dish.
  4. Dot the apples with the remaining butter sprinkle with sugar and the cinnamon evenly.
  5. Cover the dish with the pastry circle and tuck in the extra pastry around the inner rim to “hug” the outer ring apples
  6. Keep on medium heat the pastry will balloon up and the butter and sugar will start to caramel at the edges wait until dark amber brown color froth appears at the edges around.

I stand over the dish at this stage with pastry leftovers patching up any punctures in the dough that deflate my balloon. Once the edges turn the right color place the dish in the center of a preheated oven 190º C

  1. Bake the tarte Tatin for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden, with crispy dark brown caramel pieces bubbling up from around the edges. Take it out of the oven. NOW you need to turn it over, which isn’t hard – but you do need to be careful with that hot caramel. So get a serving plate larger than the dish wearing oven glove. Put the plate on top of the pan, then quickly in a smooth  confident move, turn it over don’t worry if the occasional apple gets stuck onto the dish, use a Silicone spatula to collect the caramel and “drop” the apple to its place in the crowd…and the remaining caramel/toffee all over.
  2. Serve with the best Vanilla ice cream you can get your hands on while hot.


And most importantly the wine pairing for this dessert, All of these are suitable depending on personal taste my selection:

Niepoort 10 Years Old White Port – best  served chilled with our dessert .

of course the Hugel Vendange Tardive Riesling 2001 (for those who feel LARGE…)

Or  a good 4-5 Puttonyos  Tokaji

As Judy would say: YUMMM!!!!!!!!

BTW she’s at soledadbleu-etoile.blogspot.com check her out.

Your Wineguide

             Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine

                Writer(s): MOLINA JR., ARTURO/WITHERS, BILL

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
It’s not warm when she’s away.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And she’s always gone too long
Anytime she goes away.

Wonder this time where she’s gone
Wonder if she’s gone to stay
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
Anytime she goes away.

And I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know………..


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