I like the idea that there are no mistakes in life since you can always learn something from your foibles, and a new path can often be a better one. I’m not so sure this theory is always true when it comes to cooking, especially when making French recipes as I’ve had more than one soufflé fall and many a béarnaise break.
I think that’s why I love the story of the origin of the tarte tatin. One of the tales has it that the tarte tatin was born of a mistake by Stéphanie Tatin in southern France. Legend has it that she accidentally overcooked some apples she was preparing for a pie, so she thought she’d hide her mistake by covering them with some dough and putting them in the oven to bake. When she took the pan out, she flipped it over, hoping her mistake was now hidden underneath, and she revealed a beautiful upside-down apple tart that people loved.
Mistake or not, the tarte tatin is one of my favorite French desserts, especially this time of year when apples are at their peak. I love that you only need a few ingredients to make this tart, especially if you use a premade pastry dough, as I did here, which works perfectly well and allows you to focus your time on getting the apple, butter and sugar mixture just right.
There are many different ways to cut and place the apples, but I find that quartering allows the most butter and sugar to penetrate the surface. I also think flipping the quarters halfway through cooking allows each and every edge of the apple to get a really nice caramelized texture and flavor, and that is what you’re doing it for, n’est-ce pas?
The finale of flipping the baked apples over the plate takes some confidence and a swift turn of the hand to reveal your creation. It may not be picture perfect on your first try, but remember, great things can come from cooking mistakes!
Makes one 9-inch tart.
- 6 tart apples (for example, Granny Smith)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 package of puff pastry dough
- a handful of flour for rolling out the dough
Click to see the full recipe and others like it at Girls' Guide to Paris.