Semi-tarting up our demi-Tarte Tatin

Ginger tarte tatin

We are almost as fond of our Tarte Tatin as we are of apples (and Steve is very, very fond of apples). It’s something we make just about every year when apples are in season. But like just about everyone else, we at times crave variety. So this season we decided to see what a little spice would do to one of our favorite desserts.

After Steve took five minutes to bang out one of his patented pâte brisées, Michelle added lemon, ginger, a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise to her usual task of caramelizing fresh apples and turning them into this delicious upside-down tart. We enjoyed the extra zing and pop the added ingredients brought, but agreed that while it was enjoyable, it may simply just be gilding the lily—because no matter how we make it, we think our Tarte Tatin is truly sublime.


  • Servings: approximately 4
  • Print

(inspired by Patricia Wells’ The Paris Cookbook and Ian Knauer’s The Farm)

NOTE:  This is a small tart which makes 4 generous servings. You can double the recipe and make it in a larger skillet.

  • 2-4 apples, depending on size
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 4 TB butter, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 1/2 TB finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 star anise
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 recipe pâte brisée

Spread sugar over bottom of an 8″ omelet pan or other ovenproof frying pan.  Place butter pieces on top of the sugar.  Sprinkle vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and salt over.

Peel and core apples (a melon baller works great).  Slice into quarters.  Arrange the quartered apples in the pan, core sides up.

Cook the apples over low heat until the butter and sugar mixture caramelizes.  It takes about 45 minutes to an hour.  Baste the apples occasionally.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

While the apples are cooking, roll out dough on a piece of wax paper into a circle slightly larger than the pan.  Return to the refrigerator.

When apples are done, place the dough on top of them, pushing the edges down into the pan along the sides.

Bake until crust is done, about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately invert the tart onto a plate.



  1. I know the Patricia Wells approach, and I know the Dorie Greenspan/Mariage Frères approach, but this still looks mighty fine. Got any clotted cream hanging around looking for something to do? Ken

    • Oh, don’t get me started on the clotted cream. After coming back from England, of course I bought up the first ultra-expensive tiny little jar that I saw at Whole Foods. It was a total bust. So thick you could barely get it out of the jar. 😦

    • Merci, Roger! You were definitely on my mind today. Guess what I found in an antique store in the wilds of rural Kentucky as I was killing time waiting for a work meeting? A Conran coffee table book about kitchens with your name prominently displayed inside as one of the photographers. And here’s the funniest thing: I think I owned that book at one time. Who knows? That might have been my copy!

  2. That looks so beautiful and I bet it is deliciously gingery! I’ve always been nervous to try tarte tatin precisely because I’ve been worried about it all holding together/not falling apart when inverting it at the end… so I love the idea of making a smallish one in an 8″ omelette pan—I will have to give this a try! 🙂

    • Allison, it really does make all the difference. I have a probably 50% success rate on the big ones (and lots of burns!). But, the small ones almost always come out perfectly.

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