Daring Bakers’ March 2015 Challenge: Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin | BakeNQuilt.com

Blog-checking lines:  For the March Daring Bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.

This month’s challenge was to make the classic French dessert Tarte Tatin.  Tarte Tatin is basically an upside-down single-crust pie.  It is traditionally made with apples and caramel, but can be made with other fruits and even vegetables.  The legend/story of the tarte tatin begins in Paris in the 1880s at a hotel run by the Tatin sisters.  As the story goes, one of the sisters forgot to put the bottom crust on an apple pie so she flipped it over and served it as a tart.  However, this fun story conflicts with a similar upside-down apple tart called tarte Solongnotte (named after the Sologne region) which existed before the tarte tatin.  Whichever story you believe, tarte tatin is a nice dessert to have in your repertoire as it is classy, yet simple and delicious.

The Tarte Tatin starts with an easy quick puff-pastry crust.  It’s really no harder than pie crust and in fact, it always comes out better for me than pie crust does.  A simple dough is made by cutting cold butter into flour but not as finely as for pie crust as the large chunks of butter are what helps the dough puff.  After mixing in water, the dough is rolled out into a rectangle and then folded from top and then bottom to make a packet.  The dough is rotated, rolled and folded again.  This process, which is akin to lamination for croissants but without the butter slab, is repeated 5 times and creates a dough which will puff nicely when baked.   The finished dough will be quite smooth.  The dough can be made a day ahead and even frozen.

When ready to make the tart, quartered apples are tossed with sugar and set aside to extract some of the juices.  Meanwhile, sugar and butter is cooked in a heavy frying pan until a smooth caramel forms.

The drained apples are cooked in the caramel sauce for 10-15 minutes until slightly softened but not soft enough to lose their shape.


If the skillet is oven-proof, the crust can be rolled out and placed on top of the apples in the skillet and baked right in the pan.  If, like me, you don’t own an oven-proof skillet, the apples and caramel can be transferred to a cake pan.


The dough is rolled out and tucked over the apples and the tarte is then baked until the dough is puffy and golden brown.


Just as soon as the caramel stops bubbling, just a minute or two, the tarte is turned over onto a serving platter.  It’s a little messy, but glistens beautifully!  The tarte can be served warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream alongside.  However, it is best served the day it is made.

Daring Bakers' March 2015 Challenge: Tarte Tatin
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
Classic upside-down one crust pie/tart is made by baking apples in caramel sauce with a crust on top. The tarte is flipped while warm and served apple-side up.
  • Puff Pastry:
  • 1 cup (250 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • ⅔ cup (160 ml) (5 oz) (140 gm) unsalted butter, cold
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water
  • Tarte Tatin:
  • 6 large or 7-8 medium-sized apples (firm, tart cooking apples such as Granny Smith or Pippen)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) (3 oz) (85 gm) unsalted butter (or use salted and skip the salt)
  • 1-1/3 cups (320 ml) (9½ oz) (265 gm) granulated sugar, divided
  • pinch salt
  • Rough Puff Pastry, above
  1. Make the puff pastry:
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.
  3. Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again - this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).
  5. If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.
  6. Make the Tarte:
  7. Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Remove the cores in such a way that each apple quarter has a flat inner side: when placed rounded-side-up, it should sit on a flat base. Place the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and ⅓ cup (80 ml) (2-1/2 oz) (65 gm) sugar. This will help draw out some of the moisture from the apples and prevent an overly runny caramel. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5. Melt the butter in a very heavy, 9” or 10” (23 cm or 24 cm) oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup (240 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar melts and becomes a pale, smooth caramel. The sugar will seem dry and chunky at first, then will start to melt and smooth out. If the butter appears to separate out from the caramel, just keep whisking until it is a cohesive sauce. Remove from the heat.
  9. Discard the liquid that has come out of the apples, then add the apple quarters to the caramel, round side down. They won’t all fit in a single layer at first, but as they cook they will shrink a bit. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, pressing down gently on the apples with a spoon to cover them in the caramel liquid. Move the apples around the pan gently so that they all cook evenly, trying to keep them round side down. When the apples have shrunk enough to mostly fit in a single layer and are starting to soften but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat.
  10. With a wooden spoon, arrange the apples, round side down, in a single layer of concentric circles covering the bottom of the pan. Set aside until the filling stops steaming before covering with pastry.
  11. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle about 1” (25 mm) in diameter larger than your saucepan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5 oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, increasing the oven temperature to moderately hot 400˚F/200°C/gas mark 6 during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking if the pastry isn’t browning properly.
  12. Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula. The tarte Tatin can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature. Suggested accompaniments include vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraîche.


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Sourdough Liege Waffles

Sourdough Leige Waffles | BakeNQuilt.com

Happy Third Anniversary to Sourdough Surprises!  I haven’t been participating that long, so I was happy that the challenge this month was to go back and pick a challenge that we missed.  I decided on waffles, but not traditional waffles.  Instead, I decided to try my hand at Sourdough Liege Waffles.

Liege Waffles are native to Belgium and are made from a vanilla-flavored yeast dough similar to brioche (a sweet dough rich with eggs and butter).  What really distinguishes the Liege Waffle from regular Belgian waffles is that they are studded with Belgian Pearl Sugar which caramelizes as the waffle cooks, creating glistening and flavorful pockets of flavor in and on top of the waffle.  I’ve had them off of a street cart in Portland, OR, but never seen them anywhere else.  Since that experience, I’ve been wanting to try making them myself.

I didn’t have quick access to Belgian Pearl Sugar, so I took this recipe a step further by making the pearl sugar myself.  It turned out to be pretty easy to do so – basically try on purpose to fail at making caramel!  Instead of letting the sugar melt into the water and then cooking it until browned as with caramel, you stir continuously and don’t let the sugar melt while the water boils off.  This creates crystallization and makes clumps of sugar similar to Belgian pearl sugar.  It worked beautifully.  If you don’t want to make your own, you can supposedly order the pearl sugar online or buy it at IKEA.

The tricky part of this whole Liege Waffle process turned out to be the cooking of the waffle.  The recipe suggests that the preferable tool is a professional iron Belgian Waffle maker that has adjustable temperatures.  I don’t have one and wasn’t going to buy one for this challenge.  I went with the alternate method which was to start with a regular Belgian Waffle maker but unplug it after adding the dough and letting the residual heat cook the waffle.  It became very apparent on my first waffle that my ancient $20 waffle machine was not at all up to this task.  Nice crisp and brown exterior, completely raw on the inside.  With a little trial and error, I found that 3 minutes in the machine with it turned on and 6 minutes unplugged got me a fully cooked waffle with nicely caramelized (not burnt) sugar on the outside.  This takes a long time, though.  After a couple waffles I decided to get my panini maker out, set the temperature to 375F, and cooked the remaining “waffles” in 3 minutes each.  They’re not as pretty, but came out much better in texture and time spent.


It’s been too long since I had real Liege Waffles to really compare my home version to those, but my home version was absolutely delicious!  The texture is crispy on the outside and a little fluffy and chewy at the same time on the inside.  The faint sourdough flavor combined with the buttery dough and caramelized accent of the sugar was addictive. I will be thinking of these waffles as I spend the next few days at the gym…

Sourdough Liege Waffles
Recipe type: Breakfast/Snack
Cuisine: Belgian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Brioche dough studded with pearl sugar and cooked in a Belgian Waffle maker.
  • Sponge:
  • 60g scaled milk, cooled to just warm
  • 40 g water
  • 20 g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 100g unbleached bread flour
  • Dough:
  • 1 large egg at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 140g unbleached bread flour, plus extra
  • 20g light brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 120g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup Belgian Pearl Sugar
  1. Combine the starter, milk and water in the bowl of a mixer. Add the flour and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and let sit until bubbly, 8-12 hours.
  3. Add the egg and the rest of the flour and combine.
  4. Add the sugar and salt and mix well.
  5. With the machine on, add the honey and vanilla and then add the butter, one Tbsp at a time.
  6. Mix 4 minutes at medium-low. Let rest for 1 minute. Mix for 2 more minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the dough with flour and then cover and let rise until doubled, 4-8 hours.
  8. Gently deflate the dough and shape it into a rectangle on a piece of plastic wrap. Fold each end up to form a square. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight weighted down with a plate.
  9. Mix in the pearl sugar and shape the dough into 6 oblongs. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes (no more).
  10. Here's where it gets a little tricky and may need some adjustment for your waffle maker!
  11. If you have a professional cast iron waffle iron with adjustable temperature settings, cook at exactly 365-370 degrees (max temp before sugar begins to burn) for approximately 2 minutes.
  12. If you have a regular waffle iron, heat the iron , place the dough on the iron, and immediately unplug it or turn the temp dial all the way down. Many waffle makers go so high in temperature that the sugar will burn, so turning it off and letting residual heat cook the waffle or turning the temperature down is necessary. Some experimentation is required!
  13. Be sure to let the waffle cool a for a few minutes before eating it - the caramelized sugar is HOT!
This recipe will make an absolute mess of your waffle maker. It helps to have removeable plates so that they can be easily washed. If your plates are attached to the maker, fill the wells up with water while the waffle maker is still hot and close the lid. This should dissolve most of the caramelized sugar which will pour out with the water. What remains can be wiped away with a wet paper towel.

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