The apple tart

A circle of happiness

The apple never falls far from the tree, as the saying goes concerning parents and their kids. An apple tart too is a family affair, all cooks have their own preferences and methods. The apple tart evokes the orchard, the attic where the year’s harvest is stored, until the apple becomes a pure delicacy to be shared in equal parts.

In France, a brotherhood of pastry chefs (pâtissiers) created the apple tart in 1440, in order to distinguish themselves from mere bakers. But the situation has since reversed: a little too simple for sophisticated pastry chefs, apple tart in puff pastry, sold whole or in portions, has once again become a staple of the baker's shop.

An important question

It’s impossible to know who first had the idea of making a tart: place apple slices on a circle of dough flattened with a roller, sweeten and bake in the oven. The English claim to have invented of the apple pie, of course, but Normandy has a suggestive amount of apple trees. Whether using puff or short pastry, prick the bottom with a fork so that it’s well cooked and crispy.

Variety show

Everyone prepares the tart in their own way, but its quality depends on that of the apples. La Quintinie, gardener to Louis XIV, recommended Calville. Whatever the variety, whether Reinette, Golden or another, the apples must remain firm and not melt during cooking. Adding a layer below, or topping it with a mixture of eggs beaten with sugar, honey or fresh cream, marzipan, compote or custard, is a matter of taste and family and regional habits.

The Tatin sisters

Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin ran a restaurant opposite the Lamotte-Beuvron train station in Loir-et-Cher. Legend has it that Stéphanie placed sweet apple quarters in a pie dish and put it in the oven, having forgotten to line it first with pastry. Realising her mistake, she decided to put a lid of pastry on top of the already caramelized apples, then finished baking her pie which, when flipped over, became the legendary tart Tatin.

In fact, the "inverted pie" was already an old speciality of the Sologne region. But the fame of some of the restaurant’s regular customers spread to that of the tart Tatin. The owner of Maxim's restaurant in Paris, Louis Vaudable, tasted it and was the first to copy it. Then the food critic Curnonsky published the recipe, embellished with the story of its creation, which made it even more appealing. A truly successful public relations campaign!

The apple of legends An apple offered to Helen by Paris started the Trojan War, as it showed he preferred her to Hera or Athena. The Biblical Eve was driven from earthly paradise for having bitten one. The Ancient Roman Pomona is the goddess of abundance...the apple is at the core of many legends. But it was not until the invention of the oven that it became – in the form of a delicious tart as good to eat as it is easy to prepare, with sugar and butter, with or without cinnamon, with or without whipped cream – a little sin of pleasure.

A trick of yesteryear

To help jam set, our grandmothers cooked it in a bag lined with apple seeds, the pectin of which served as a natural gelling agent.


You are 4 to have shared this memory!

  • La tarte aux pommes

    Maryse et Baptiste

  • La tarte tatin


  • La tarte tatin


  • La tarte aux pommes