Ever made a tarte tatin? After many failed attempts and burnt caramel, I finally succeeded in creating the perfect recipe, one which I am sure you will love.

Tarte tatin makes me weak in the knees. From the moment I first tried it at a wonderful little restaurant in Lyon, I couldn’t help but fall madly in love. Those soft, caramel-coated apples kissed with a touch of cinnamon and blanketed by flaky, buttery pastry! Heaven on the lips. Especially if served warm, with a nice blob of crème fraîche — or even better, a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.

Up until a few years ago, however, tarte tatin and I were not getting along. No matter what I did, each attempt turned out to be a flop. To say I was puzzled and felt utterly defeated is an understatement, especially because I am a pretty good baker. 
Sometimes it was the pastry: too soggy. Other times I would burn the caramel — and ruin my pans in the process. And sometimes it looked OK, but just didn’t taste quite right.

I came up with the following recipe one winter afternoon when I was intent on facing my fears once again. In fact, I didn’t make it very easy on myself and even pitched it to a client in Belgium for whom I was writing recipes.
I installed myself in the kitchen, turned up Charles Aznavour for inspiration and set to work.  
I made the pastry, rolled it out on a sheet of parchment paper and then popped it in the fridge while I peeled the apples, made the caramel and preheated the oven. An hour later I had produced the most beautifully delectable tarte tatin ever! All of those failures were suddenly forgotten! A thing of the past!
Though this recipe has appeared in Dutch on La Douce Vie and on other media, I thought I would share it with readers here, too.

Note: Preferably, the tarte tatin should be made in an authentic tarte tatin pan measuring 25cm. One that can also be used on the stove. You can also use an ovenproof pan of the same size.

My Ultimate Tarte Tatin

Serves 8

For the pastry:

  • 250g flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110g cold butter, cubed
  • 40g margarine, cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsps water


For the filling:

  • 8 small apples (about 750g) peeled and cored
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 120g butter
  • 200g granulated sugar


Preheat the oven to 180°C. In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the flour, salt, butter and margarine until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Then add the egg and the water, and pulse again until the dough comes together. On a sheet of parchment paper roll out the pastry to a circle that is slightly larger than the pan you will be using. Put the pastry in the fridge while you get on with the rest of the recipe.
Cut the peeled and cored apples in half, add the vanilla and cinnamon, and toss well to mix.
Put your tarte tatin pan on the stove and slowly melt the butter. Once the butter is almost fully melted, add the sugar and stir well for about a minute or two. Now increase the heat to about medium and leave the caramel until it starts to turn golden and smell wonderful. This will take about 10 minutes. Whatever you do, do not stir! Simply swirl the caramel every now and then.
Add the apples (cut side down) and then gently turn them around (cut side up) so they are completely coated with the caramel. Turn down the heat a bit, and leave the apples to cook for about five minutes. In the meantime, take your pastry out of the fridge. Once the apples are cooked, take the pan off the heat, and carefully cover the apples with the pastry making sure to tuck in the sides and fold over any remaining pastry. Prick the pastry a few times with a fork.
Bake the tarte tatin for about 45-50 minutes. Leave to cool on a rack for at least ten minutes before turning it out on to a plate. To serve, place a plate on top of the pan, put on some oven gloves, and flip the whole thing over so that the tarte tatin ends up on your plate. Enjoy as is, with some crème fraîche or with some vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.