Home Food DigiBites: Chef Charlie Offers Up A Recipe For That Perfect Fall Dessert

DigiBites: Chef Charlie Offers Up A Recipe For That Perfect Fall Dessert

Photo: Epicurean Exchange

Bonjour news24/680 readers!

Having returned from our fall travels, we have plenty of new repertoire to share!  As the days turn shorter and cooler, it is time to anticipate the change of seasons, and in our produce markets as well.

Apples are the autumn fruit to me!  You should begin to see varieties coming in from Washington State (which provides nearly 50 percent of the total U.S. production) – Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Braeburn, and the best for using in our featured recipe, the Golden Delicious!  Availability begins in Washington and then makes their way down to California and the truly local varieties coming from the North Bay, Central Coast (Santa Cruz) and the Sierra Foothills near where I grew up in Placer County, and near Apple Hill in El Dorado County.

The apple variety we used in Nice were the Calville, which like the Golden Delicious, are sweet, contain less moisture, and stand up to the temperature and hold their shape.  I have observed two very good chefs, one from Nice and one from Lyon produce the exact same dessert using almost the same ingredients and amounts for the pastry and filling, but approach the cooking in very different ways.  My chef friend in Nice takes her lead from apparently a society that actually promotes the dessert and has spent considerable time researching and providing the proper recipes and its execution.

The other version is from my good friend and teacher in Lyon.  I have tried both and giving you the one that turned out the best for me.  On measurements: the ingredients are a combination of tablespoons, cups, grams, milliliters and ounces.  Ideally, a scale, converted to grams, is best.

For you history buffs, here’s a little background on the dessert: According to the

French Calvelle apples used in our Tarte Tatin. Here in the Bay Area, use Golden Delicious

website: www.tartetatin.org (yes, this exists), “the Tatin sisters, Caroline and Fanny, inherited a small hotel in the small village of Lamotte-Beuvron, in the district of Sologne, 100 miles south of Paris. While Caroline greeted the guests, showed them to their rooms, and made them feel at home, Fanny managed the kitchen.  The story has it that, Fanny once accidentally dropped an apple tarte while rushing about the kitchen.  With hungry patrons calling, she promptly picked it up and rearranged it as best as she could, which happened to be upside down, and stuck it in the oven.  Once baked, she flipped it back up on a dish, and discovered to her surprise the rich caramelized texture that is the tarte’s hallmark.”

If you would like to make this with me (and enjoy making and enjoying a complete Burgundian menu), you can always join us for our Burgundy Cooking Class on Tuesday, October 30 in Orinda. Check in with Chef Charlie for more information and registration.

Tarte Tatin

Equipment: a 12-inch in diameter, 3 1/2 quart cast iron pan (I have a Le Creuset) with 2 handles

Pastry (enough for 1 tart)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (175 g)

4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (30 g)

Pinch of sea salt

3 ounces very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes (90 g)

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons crème fraiche (30 ml)


10 – medium to large apples (Golden Delicious)

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, divided; 3/4 cup (170 g) for the caramel, and 1/4 cup (30 g) to garnish the apples

1/3 cup (80 g) butter, divided, 1/4 cup (50 g) for the caramel and 1/8 cup (30 g) for garnishing apples

  • Sift the flour and powdered sugar and place in the bowl of a food processor with the salt.  Pulse once or twice to combine.
  • Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and crème fraîche and process until the dough forms a ball. Be careful not to over mix but do let the dough come together.
  • Turn the dough out onto a board and shape it into a ball with your hands, then flatten the ball.  Wrap in plastic warp and store in the refrigerator for 45 minutes while you are making the filling.
  •  Prepare everything before beginning to cook the caramel:  Measure out the sugar in two bowls of 170 grams and 30 grams, measure out the butter in two batches of 50 grams (one piece) and 30 grams (cut into small pieces), and peel and core the apples. Roll out the pâte brisée to about 2 inches larger in diameter than the pan you plan to cook and bake the tarte in.
  •  Heat the Tatin dish for a few minutes over medium-low heat. Pour 170 grams of the sugar into the bottom and spread it evenly in the pan to caramelize. If the sugar begins to foam and smoke in a hot spot in the pan before the rest of the sugar melts, push it around to move the cold sugar into the hot spots. Once all of the sugar has melted (it will smoke and have changed color by this time), turn off the heat or remove from the burner and add 50 grams of butter in one piece, moving it around to slightly cool the caramel.
  •  Place the apples, peeled, cored and quartered, rounded side down, around the outside of the pan and then fill the inside. Add a second layer, rounded side up, so that they fit snugly between the first ones. (do not pile up more than two layers of apples, of they will not cook evenly in the oven.)
  •  Sprinkle 30 grams of sugar over the top and dot with the remaining butter.
  •  Place the pastry over the apples, tucking the edges in neatly. Pierce several air vents in the dough to prevent it rising into a dome. Bake at 200C/400F for approximately 30 minutes. With this tarte, you should lean toward well done in the cooking, to ensure that the apples are cooked through. Wait until the crust is well browned to ensure it is cooked through and stays together.
  •  Once removed from the oven, leave to stand for 10 to 15 minutes before inverting onto the serving platter*.

* Note: Ideally, the tart should have absorbed all the liquid released by the apples. Sometimes, there is extra liquid that can become an issue when the tart is turned upside-down onto the service dish. Suggestion: before you do so, carefully tilt the pan to see if there is any extra moisture visible around the edges.  If so, carefully pour off the extra liquid.  This has happened every so often, but not always.


  1. My grand-mère used to make this!!! But I never knew about Fanny and Caroline until now!!! That’s a great kitchen story!

  2. Apparently one of your facebook people is going to try this one. I’d like to know how that turns out. Will you be posting pictures here or on facebook?

    • Yes. We think Nancy Ann is going to take a crack at this one. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with! And we’ll post any photos she sends both here and to our Facebook page…

  3. Do you have a preference between convection and conventional ovens and why? Shopping for one this weekend!!

    • Thanks, Patricia for the question.
      I personally have ovens that can be either convection (with a fan) or conventional (without a fan). Did some reading to confirm my experience: Convection simply circulates air and reduces hot and cold areas. From experience, convection cooks faster, more evenly and at lower temperatures. Better when cooking multiple dishes. Not so good for traditional baking as items don’t always rise as well as expected.
      I’d look to always have as much flexibility as possible and have both. I routinely toggle between the two. I’d ask an appliance expert as well! Good luck!

Leave a Reply