Tarte tatin / French upside-down Apple pie

This has been a year of apples and walnuts for us. The trees have given us so much. I am grateful to the trees and their Creator to finally be here after so many years of being away during the harvest and that the abundance was more than we were prepared to handle. I cannot express what a pleasure it was to gather the apples. The weather was cool and gray. Not much noise around except some cows and birds. I gathered what I could. Didn’t try to climb too high in the trees. Ate a few along the way and eventually enjoyed eating many imperfect, perfectly delicious apples. This blog and a couple of others to follow are all about the apples.

The pie you’ll see baked is a classic in French bistrot cuisine. This one’s a gift to our neighbors. They invited us to bring all of our apples to their farm and throw them in an apple press for making apple juice and cider. We came home with 20 liters of apple juice. That deserves a blog post all its own. Now, what about that “Tarte tatin“, that Upside-down Apple Pie?


Pâte brisé / Crust

  • 200 g All Purpose flour
  • 100 g butter (cold)
  • 50-65 g cold water
  • a pinch of salt


  • 8-10 apples
  • 150 g butter
  • 150 g sugar ( I used some molasses I had handy because “it was there”. )


  1. Preparing the crust. You could do this part in a matter of seconds with a food processor. I cut the butter into the flour the old fashioned way – because I had to. If you too do this by hand, just try to find a way to keep your hands off of the butter as much as possible. I used a pastry cutter, but you may want to use a fork or other instrument. Usually described as becoming sandy in texture when properly done, don’t worry if some lumps are still in the mix. This can create great flaky bursts of buttery flavor. Next pour in the beaten egg and some of the water. Begin to mix with a spoon, spatula or your hands (but work quickly). Add water as needed to get the mixture to come together. Be careful not to add too much water as that can make a crust less flaky and tender. Place your pastry in the fridge while you go to work on the apples.
The crust / Le pâte

2. Preparing the apples. Simply peel and cut them in half from top to bottom. Then core them. Don’t worry about them turning brown since they will be taking a long, slow bath in bubbling buttery caramel.

The apples / Les pommes

3. Caramelizing the apples. Place your tart pan on the stovetop for this first stage of assembly and cooking. Best to melt the butter first, then add the sugar. Let the fire do most of the work, stirring just enough to help things move along evenly. Cook until the mixture becomes a golden amber color, then begin loading up the apples. Stand the apples up on end and fit them in as tightly as possible being careful not to break them. They will shrink as they cook and loose water. You want the end product to still be a relatively tight structure. Cover the apples with aluminium foil and let them cook on the stovetop slowly. You want them to soften but not loose their structure and give the caramel time to thicken.


4. Putting it together, baking and unmolding. While the apples are cooking on the stovetop, take your pastry from the fridge and roll it out. Remove the caramelized apples from the stovetop and, while still hot, replace the foil with the pastry. You will need to tuck the edges of the pastry down into the tart pan – NOT creating a decorative edge over the pan. Remember, the top will become the bottom. Place the tart, pastry side up, into the oven at 350*F / 180*C for 20-25 minutes. When the crust is golden, remove from the oven, let cool only slightly for 5 minutes. Then, flip onto a plate that can hold the caramel that will ooze from below. Finally, enjoy warm or at room temperature with or without whipped cream or ice cream. For me, I just want a piece of that pie.

Assemble, bake, flip / Du montage au démoulage

Have a sweet and wonderful day. / Que vous ayez une très belle journée délicieuse.

Merci Dieu

Noix pralinés – Candied walnuts

We have been blessed, deeply blessed, by the presence of a number of mature walnut trees at our home. When we first came to France, the walnut trees were our primary place of residence, so to speak. The children were preschool age, the house just barely habitable, and the trees offered us a place in the shade with a breeze that seemed to never end. We played, read stories, took naps and ate our meals under the walnut trees day after day all summer long.

As international school teachers, we were never around when it was time to gather the walnuts. We flew to other countries at mid August every year to be with our students rather than with the crops in the fields. Still, we always had walnuts to crack, shell and eat thanks to our neighbors who share-cropped the apples and walnuts for us. They took all they wanted and left for us all we could handle when we would return in late spring. That pattern is changing quickly now. The kids are grown, I am retired and its time to collect walnuts again. A good thing it is, as this year’s crop is the most abundant that anyone in the area can remember.

Two milk cows guarding a young walnut tree.

Now, what about those candied walnuts mentioned at the top of this page? So as not to delay any longer, have a look at the video below. Explanation to follow.

Making noix pralinés, candied walnuts.


  • 1 kg walnuts (shelled; preferably halves)
  • 350 g granulated sugar
  • 50 g butter (salted would be fine; would enhance the flavors)
  • 25 g ground cinnamon (I used sticks in the video but you can control your results more easily with ground cinnamon. The sticks may yield more cinnamon oil)
  • 10 g vanilla extract


1. Place a large, heavy duty pot on the stove. Turn heat on medium high. Pour in the sugar and cinnamon. Allow the sugar to begin melting, then add the butter.

2. Closely monitor the melting sugar mixture. Allow it to attain a deep amber, caramel, then add all of the walnuts. Stir with a ladle or wooden spoon. You must work quickly because the mixture will want to harden. Work your mixture on and off of the heat folding the walnut mass over and over trying to avoid breaking the halves as much as possible. Work quickly to cover the surface of all the walnuts.

3. Pour the mixture out onto parchment paper or a silicon mat working quickly to flatten the mass into a single layer. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. It probably won’t be.

4. When the candied walnut mass has cooled to room temperature, gently break the it apart into individual walnut halves or small groups of two or three but not more than that. Done.

Uses of your Noix pralinés.

1. Snack on a few with a cup of coffee or tea. A few! (They pack a caloric punch.

2. Crumble some up to put on top of (or mixed into) vanilla or mocha ice cream.

3. Crumble some up and sprinkle over a main-course salad.

4. Make Christmas gifts of small, ribboned bundles of this delicious nut candy. Guaranteed not to be returned!

Have fun making this with someone you love and have a sweet day.

(Today’s blog was written while zipping across France on the TGV headed home – back to those walnut trees and to my daughter. This batch of noix pralinés was left with my wife to lift her spirits as she is still working à l’étranger.