Tarte Tatin is an
upside-down apple tart in which the apples are caramelized in butter and sugar
before the tart is baked.
Left: Tarte Tatin.
Tradition says that the Tarte Tatin was first created by accident at the Hotel
Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in 1898. The hotel was run by two sisters,
Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. There are conflicting stories concerning the
tart's origin, but the predominant one is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of
the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie
but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the
burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the
pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the
oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much
the hotel guests appreciated the dessert.
The Tarte became a signature dish at the Hotel Tatin and the recipe spread
through the Sologne region. Its lasting fame is probably due to the restaurateur
Louis Vaudable, who tasted the tart on a visit to Sologne and made the dessert a
permanent fixture on the menu at his restaurant Maxim's of Paris.
Left: Billboard in front of the Hotel
Tarte Tatin has to be made with firm dessert apples: cooking apples will not do
as they mulch down into a purée. In North America, Tarte Tatin is typically made
with Golden Delicious apples, which are not the type used for American-style
Tarte Tatin can also be made with pears, peaches, pineapple, tomatoes, other
fruit, or vegetables, such as onion.