Tarte tatin was created—perhaps by accident—at the Hôtel Tatin, a small hotel run by the two sisters Tatin in the French town of Lamotte-Beuvron (Loir-et-Cher).
Some years ago there was a group of enthusiasts—called a confrérie in France—who made efforts to protect the “purity of the traditional recipe” for Tarte tatin. They established a website (now long gone) to promote the “official Tarte tatin recipe“ given below. I have not attempted to correct the sometimes awkward translation on the old website, as I think it lends charm to the recipe. (Here’s my Tarte tatin story.)
I have given rough US translations of the metric measures (in italics).
Take a relatively high-sided pie dish (for 8, 24 cm diameter) (about 9 inches). Note: this must be a dish that can be placed directly over a flame.
Butter the mold using 150 g (about 5 TB) of fine butter. Sprinkle 125 g (about 1/2 cup) of icing sugar (fine powdered sugar) onto the butter.
Peel approximately 1 Kg (about 2.2 pounds, or 4-5 apples) of apples. Cut them roughly into quarters and place them side by side with the curved side down then fill the gaps with large slices.
Start cooking on a low flame for 10 to 15 minutes, to monitor the beginning of caramelizing to your taste. Then place in an oven at between 180 and 200°C [350-400°F) for approximately 1/4 of an hour.
Take out and arrange on a base of flaky or short pastry (I think this means arrange pie crust on top of apples), slightly larger than the diameter of the mold, then put back in the oven for approximately a 1/4 of an hour.
Once cooking is over, take out of the oven and allow to stand for a few minutes. Place a serving dish over your mold and turn out quickly.
Simply serve as it is, that’s it.
Tips from Jane
— If you have any French music, play it while you’re making this to be even more authentic!
— While some recipes suggest serving it with whipped cream, I tend to agree with the Confrérie who say “simply serve as it is, that’s it…the addition of cream or flaming with alcohol on service would simply change this unique taste: thus it is to be avoided.”
— The web site suggested drinking a light red wine (preferably from Sologne) or an excellent cider (French cidre is lightly alcoholic) with the Tarte tatin.
Here’s my unofficial Tarte tatin recipe.