What is a Tarte Tatin?


Have you seen an upside down tart where the crust is on top and the rest is under?  That’s a tarte tatin.

It’s a French word for this kind of tart which is traditionally made of apples, but pears can be a delicious change worth trying.

The apples – or pears for that matter – are mixed with caramelized butter and brown sugar and, as what was mentioned earlier, served upside down.

Why go through the hassle of trying to serve a pie this way?

It was said that this was just an accidental baking invention and there are several stories attached to the history of tarte tatin.  It dates back as far as a hundred years ago.

Most of the credit however, is given to Stephanie Tatin, the famous pie’s inventor and co-owner of Tatin Inn, Inc.  One story mentions that Stephanie used to bake delicious apple pies in a crust for the hotel’s guests by sautéing them first with butter and brown sugar.

However, one day while sautéing apples, she forgot to turn off the heat which by then started caramelizing.  To save her pie, what she did was to place a pastry crust on top of the apples before putting them in the oven to bake.

The “upside down” pie became a hit for the inn’s customers and through time, became popular all throughout France and all over the world.  And like most recipes, different people from different places have re-invented tarte tatin by using different varieties of fruits to make it.

It’s the first thing you should avoid when buying pears, actually – bruises, cuts and soft spots.  Instead, choose pears that have smooth, unblemished skin.

Deep-colored pears also indicate it would become a juicy, succulent fruit when it becomes ripe.  Select pears that are firm, but not too hard.

If you want to hasten its ripening process, put the pears in a paper bag with small holes in several places and fold the top over.  Add an apple or orange as these fruits release ethylene gas, which speeds ripening.

Set the paper bag aside at room temperature for a few days and check every so often for ripeness.  You would know they are ripe when the flesh near the stem gives slightly when gently pressed.

Pears can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week.  But remember to store them away from cabbage, celery, potatoes, onions and carrots to avoid the pears from absorbing their odors.