French Upside Down Apple Pie

Is it plums, is it dates asked my dinner guests enchanted as I served this upside down dessert. Apples everywhere in the grocery store so couldn’t resist dusting off my recipe book to bring out this classic which I made frequently over 15 years ago.

Its not surprising that this French upside down apple pie is so popular. I found a recipe years ago that I modified. In Canada we are bilingual with a large French speaking population, so I hope you won’t mind me calling this pie by its real French name,–Tarte Tatin, doesn’t that have a nice ring to it. Tarte tatin is not your usual apple pie where apples are relegated to the bottom, instead here apples shine on the surface.

1 cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter cubed
Spice Mix
½ tsp ground cinnamon
8 apples (2 kg/4 lb)
2 tbsp lemon juice)
¼ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
Serves 8

Pots n pans
Cast iron skillet

SOS You can skip the crust steps 1-3 & the crust list entirely by using Pillsbury frozen pie crust– makes short work of your pie rolling.. I have to confess I liked the practicality of using store bought pie crust but I did enjoy making the dough from scratch as well, You pick whichever works for you, both methods work nicely.

I used a combination of Portland & macintosh apples since I had only those at home. But apparently this is also a good practice. Portlands keep their shape. Macintosh is a bit softer so I ended up with cooked & crisp apples.


  1. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar & salt. Using pastry blender(SOS I don’t have one, so I used 2 knives instead). Cut in butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.
  2. In measuring cup, stir vinegar with enough ice water to make ¼ cup. Drizzle over flour mixture, stirring with a fork until flour resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.
  3. Press into ball. Flattern into disc. Wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes of upto 3 days.
  4. Filling: Meanwhile peel, quarter & core apples, cut in half lengthwise.In bowl toss apples with lemon juice. SOS my apple peeler & corer does this work quickly or you could use a peeler.
  5. In 8” cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Add sugar, stirring with wooden spoon for 3-5 minutes or until starting to bubble. Add cinnamon. SOS You’ll know when the caramel is ready.. This is the moment when…Sugar melts, caramel turns very glossy– try to get a deep mahogany colour for your caramel.. which will make your tart super delicious & rich tasting. If you find that the butter separates on the top, that’s ok.
  6. Remove from heat. Discarding juice, arrange layer of apples flat side down in concentric circles in syrup in pan Layer remaining apples over top to cover first layer evenly.
  7. Cook over medium high heat, basting with syrup that bubbles up, for about 15 minutes or until apples begin to soften & syrup starts to thicken. Cover & cook for 5 minutes or until apples in top layer are just tender. Remove from heat. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile on lightly floured surface, roll out doughto 10” circle. Cut 4 small steam vents at center. Loosely roll pastry around rolling pin.Unroll over apples. Trim off pastry extending over rim of pan, press pastry edge down between aples and pan.
  9. Bake in 425 degree f(220° C) oven for about 25 minutes or till pastry is golden brown. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Invert heatproof serving plate over pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grasp plate & pan. Turn over to unmould tart onto plate. With tongs quickly arrange apples stuck in patn over top. Serve warm.

Featured Spice
Cinnamon is the talk of town in this amazing pie. I never liked cinnamon as I found it to be a strong spice till a co-worker brought some in & persuaded me to try a chew. We experimented on what else it could do other than create sweet flavours. And we found it made a great spice tea and after we drank our tea, we could still chew on the slightly soft cinnamon stick for a continued sweet sensation.

Health benefits
Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. A study conducted in 2007 and published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry suggests that specific plant terpenoids contained within cinnamon have potent antiviral properties.

Fun facts
Tarte Tatin was first created by accident at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France, in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin.[2] There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart’s origin.

Suggested Pairing

Tarte tatin is best served warm with a dollop of vanilla icecream. Heres’a pix of my home waiting for the guests to arrive. Don’t miss the skeleton drive sign, we’re ready for Halloween.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Allison says:

    Yum, this looks delicious!

    1. soulofspice says:

      it sure is. I just have to learn to take better pix with my camera or better still maybe get a new camera.. some of the food blogs I see including yours have amazing pix that tell a great story!!

      1. Allison says:

        Aw, that’s nice of you to say, although I don’t know if my photos always tell a story… (And knowing nothing about photography, sometimes I’m barely satisfied with them, but if you want some inspiration, compare the photos in my first posts a year and a half ago to the more recent ones! ; )

  2. Marcella Rousseau says:

    This recipe sounds great. I am definitely going to try this. You could probably make this with peaches or plums or nectarines also. You know, there are two types of cinnamon. One that we get in the US and one that is considered the better one which comes from Saigon. It is supposed to be far superior. I bought it but haven’t used it yet because I want to finish off my “old” cinnamon. If I remember correctly, the trees that the cinnamon comes from are different. I first heard about it on a cooking show. P.S. I love the yellow flowers in your photo. They’re so cheerful!

    1. soulofspice says:

      I’d heard about the diff varieties of cinnamon, thanks for reminding me.. I love the yellow flowers too. SIGH soon they’ll be replaced with evergreens!!

      1. Marcella Rousseau says:

        I’ve got about a teaspoon left of the “old” cinnamon and then I will be trying the “new” one. I can’t wait!! We had a beautiful warm day today. It was perfect for everyone to celebrate Thanksgiving.

    1. soulofspice says:

      it sure is, I hope you can try it ! and many thanks for stopping by..

  3. Marcella Rousseau says:

    I made this tonight in my 8″ cast iron skillet. I only needed 3 apples and I used golden delicious. I used phyllo dough for the crust. It was really good and surprisingly easy to turn out onto a plate. I was afraid it would be too juicy. It was perfect. I will be making this again! Thanks for a great dish! Now all you have to do is tell me how I can stop eating it! : – )

    1. soulofspice says:

      awesome! i’ve never tried with golden but I can see how that would make a great apple pie, and because goldens tend to be sweet we can even cut down sugar if needed.. Oh Marcella, my only secret to stay away from this delicious apple pie, is the extremely cruel route of not making it 🙂 but now that you’ve tried it, and you’re hooked its going to be hard to stop….

      1. Marcella Rousseau says:

        LOL! I did cut down on the sugar. I ate 2/3 of the pie! I will be making it again as soon as I go to the store to buy more apples! It was a very light dessert with the phyllo dough. And cleanup was very easy too! Easier than using a pie plate. Yep, this was a winner!

  4. emmycooks says:

    I have never tried making one of these but you make it sound so easy! I might have to get brave & try it tomorrow–caramel always seems so daring. 🙂

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