A relaxed friendly hands-on cooking holiday in the Dordogne, France
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Tarte Tatin

Shrouded in the fug of near-legend lies the story of Tarte Tatin. Here's the official version (maybe)...

The story goes that one day in northern France, two sisters, Stéphanie and Carline Tatin, were preparing a large meal. The dessert was apple tart, a local speciality, but in those days the tart was quite conventional; a pastry top covering a base of cooked apple.

The tension in the kitchen was unusually high that day and an accident was bound to happen, and so it did. Stéphanie, balancing the cooked tart in her nervous arms tripped, pitching the tart to the ground. 

It flew into a thousand pieces, but, as there was no other dessert on offer the two sisters had to think quick! They came up with the idea of using the re-heated apple filling to cover the shattered pastry, thus hiding the damage. 

In its new guise the tart was served to the guests.  Much to the sisters’ surprise it was an instant success and became known ever after as Tarte Tatin in honour of those two wily sisters.


For the pastry:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • a little cold water


For the filling:

  • 6 – 8 eating apples
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 75g caster sugar


The Pastry:

Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and allow to come to room temperature. 

Sift the flour and salt into a roomy bowl and add the butter, rubbing it into the flour with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. 

Add a little cold water and ‘cut’ it into the mixture with a round-bladed knife. 

As soon as the mixture starts to come together, adding a little more water if necessary. Go in with your hands and coax it into a ball. 

Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to rest for half an hour or so.

Pre-heat the oven to gas 200°C (400°F / Mk6)

The Apples:

Peel and core and halve the apples. 

Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed, oven-proof frying pan.  Add the sugar, give it a stir, then put in the apples, arranging them so they fit neatly in the pan. 

Cook over a medium heat until the apples begin to brown and become tender and the butter/sugar mixture caramelises.  

Roll the pastry outto a round 1cm larger than the pan, and 5mm thick.  Drape it over the apples, tucking the excess pastry down into the pan so the edges bathe in the caramelised juices.

Bake for about fifteen to twenty minutes until the top is golden brown. 

Remove and allow to cool to room temperature at which point it eats at its best. 

To serve, loosen the edges of the tart and place a large plate over the pan.  Invert it, allowing the tart to fall out onto the plate. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream or lashings of double cream.


You have permission to publish this article and recipe electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the following byline is included (a courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated):

"Jim Fisher is an English chef who runs relaxed friendly hands-on cooking courses in the Dordogne region of south west France. Contact him via: or Tel: 0033 (0)553 302405"






























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5 Day/5 Night Cooking Courses Include:

  • Expert hands-on tuition with British chef

  • All courses conducted in English

  • All cooking ingredients, equipment and aprons

  • A continental breakfast each day

  • Lunch each day

  • Dinner
    (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday)

  • Tea, coffee and wine

  • An evening meal on the day of your arrival

  • En suite centrally-heated accommodation

  • Recipe pack containing all the dishes cooked during your stay

  • Entrance fees to places visited

  • Private and secluded pool

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    Some of the things you'll be doing on the cooking course:

    Learn how to cook pastries, breads and soups

    Select and prepare the best fish and shellfish

    Butcher common joints of meat

    Cook classic French and Italian sauces

    Construct modern dressings

    Master the art of stylish contemporary food presentation