Photo from Grand Hotel du Lion d’O
Tarte Tatin (tart tah-TAN) – A famous French upside-down apple tart (actually a sweet upside-down cake) made by covering the bottom of a shallow baking dish with butter and sugar, then apples and finally a pastry crust. While baking, the sugar and butter create a delicious caramel that becomes the topping when the tart is inverted onto a serving plate.
There is one rule for eating Tarte Tatin, which is scrupulously observed. It must be served warm, so the cream melts on contact. To the French, a room temperature Tarte Tatin is not worth the pan it was baked in.
There are several version on the history of the tarte tatin, the most popular being the following:
According to the history of the Hotel Tatin:
1888 – Two French sisters, Carolina (1847-1911) and Stephine Tatin (1838-1917), created this tart. The sisters lived in Lamotte-Beuvron, a small rural town in the Loire Valley of France. They owned and ran the hotel called l’Hotel Tatin in 1888. The elder sister, Sthanie, dealt with the kitchen. She was a particularly fine cook but was not the brightest of people. Her specialty was an apple tart, served perfectly crusty, caramelized and which melted in the mouth. One day during the hunting season, during the midday scramble, Stephanie placed her tart in the oven the wrong way round. The pastry and apples were upside-down but, nevertheless, she served this strange dessert without giving it time to cool.
The French call this dessert tarte des demoiselles Tatin (the tart of two unmarried women named Tatin).
This dessert gained it’s popularity when famed Maxim’s Restaurant of Paris, France put it on their menu:
According to some historians, when word of this new gastronomic delight reached Paris, Maxim’s owner decided he must have the recipe. He supposedly sent a cook/spy, disguised as a gardener, to Lamotte-Beuvron to discover the secret. The spy is successful, brings the recipe back to Maxim’s, and it has been on the menu of that famous restaurant ever since.