Tatin Cake (a.k.a. Upside-Down Apple Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce)–and a Saveur Awards Nomination (!!)

Tatin Cake (a.k.a. Upside-Down Apple Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce)–and a Saveur Awards Nomination (!!)

Tatin Cake (a.k.a. Upside-Down Apple Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce) // FoodNouveau.com

Tarte Tatin is a classic dessert I believe will never go out of style. There’s something enticing about the simplicity of that century-old tart, an accidental creation in which apples are cooked in a caramel, covered with pastry, and then baked. The taste of the rustic tart fresh from the oven is refined and rich, its aroma intoxicating. If you have puff pastry on hand, it’s a simple dessert to put together and one of the most rewarding for the wow effect it produces.

Tarte Tatin is a lovely dessert on its own right, but making homemade puff pastry is a project all on its own. Of course, you can buy ready-made puff pastry, but a quality product can be hard to find—at least, I’m not really happy with what I can easily find locally. So one day I was daydreaming about the tart, feeling lazy about making homemade pastry (which is how I feel 99% of the time), and I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to turn Tarte Tatin into a lovely cake? I’m not the first one to have this lightbulb moment, I’m sure—in fact, this cake could easily be considered a close—but better—cousin of the ‘80s sensation, the upside-down pineapple cake.

Tatin Cake (a.k.a. Upside-Down Apple Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce) // FoodNouveau.com

This cake has a slightly denser crumb that is willing to absorb a lot of caramel and withhold the caramelized apples without losing its composure. If you can’t find or don’t want to use almond flour, you can omit it and use only cake flour, but know that the cake will have a lighter texture. If you wanted to use another nut, such as ground walnuts or pecans, I suggest you to do so using the following ratio: ½ cup [125 ml] ground nuts to 1 cup [250 ml] cake flour. The reason for doing so is that walnuts and pecans contain more oil than almonds, which makes for a heavier ground product that would result in a too-dense cake.

I use maple sugar in this dessert because it provides an amazing aroma to the cake, but if you don’t have any, feel free to use the substitute provided in the recipe. If you’re a caramel-making novice, fear not: the one you’ll make for this cake doesn’t even require the use of a thermometer. The cake batter is quick to pull together, so your hardest task, really, is to peel, slice, and carefully lay out the apples to create a beautiful topping. Not bad for such an elegant dessert!

Amazing news: Food Nouveau is a finalist in the 2016 Saveur Blog Awards! Thanks in large part to your support, my blog was selected among 30,000 submissions to be one of the six finalists in the Best How-To Food Blog category.

Food Nouveau is a finalist for Best How-To Food Blog at the 2016 Saveur Blog Awards // FoodNouveau.comTo say that this nomination made my year is an understatement. I’ve been faithfully following the Saveur Awards since the very beginning, seven years ago. It has always been one of my favorite ways to discover new blogs: although there is a public call for nominations, the selection of the six finalists in each category is an editorial one. Year after year, the Saveur editors put forward a carefully curated list of nominees. I’ve always appreciated the fact that they don’t just pick the bloggers with the most impressive following because if they did, the same ones would come back year after year. I’ve discovered some of my favorite blogs through the Saveur Awards, and this is precisely why being a finalist this year feels both like a shock and an incredible honor.

When you blog, it’s easy to feel like you’re talking to yourself. Sometimes you wonder why you keep at it. Sometimes you think the people around you wonder why you keep at it. But you keep doing it, and that’s because it’s your passion: it simply is in you. Through the comments I get, I know my humble blog helps people make their favorite dishes and treats, but I truly, honestly wasn’t prepared for this acknowledgement. It simply takes my breath away.

Make sure to check out all of this year’s nominees. You’ll meet passionate people and make amazing discoveries. If you can spare a second, please tick the box next to Food Nouveau in the Best How-To Food Blog category. Two winners will be selected in each category—the Editors’ Choice and the Readers’ Choice—so your vote really makes a difference. I’m so grateful for your continued support—I only wish I could send you a slice of Tatin Cake to thank you!

Voting ends August 31st. You can vote daily until then. It all happens here: http://saveur.com/blogawards

Learn more about the Saveur Awards through their Frequently Asked Questions page. To discover even more inspiring reads, check out last year’s winners and nominees.

Makes one 9-inch round cake.

Tatin Cake (a.k.a. Upside-Down Apple Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce)

Classic Tarte Tatin turned into a lovely cake doused in maple caramel, what's not to like?

15 minPrep Time

20 minCook Time

35 minTotal Time

Save Recipe


For the caramel
½ cup [125 ml] unsalted butter
1 cup [250 ml] granulated maple sugar (or substitute brown sugar)
2 tbsp [30 ml] Cognac (optional)
½ vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped, bean discarded (see note)
2 baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (Cortland, Golden Delicious, Gala, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith are all good—each imparts a slightly different flavor)
For the cake
¼ cup [60 ml] unsalted butter (½ stick)
½ cup [125 ml] granulated maple sugar (or substitute cane sugar, or regular granulated sugar)
2 eggs
1 cup [250 ml] almond flour
½ cup [125 ml] cake flour
1 tsp [5 ml] baking powder
? cup [80 ml] whole milk (3.25% fat content), or other milk of your choice (see Make It Dairy Free note)


Preheat the oven to 350°F [175°C]. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. If the springform pan you are using is not leakproof, wrap the outside of the pan with a sheet of aluminum paper so the caramel does not drip out.

Make the caramel: In a saucepan set over medium heat, whisk the butter, maple sugar, Cognac (if using), and vanilla seeds until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a full boil and then let it roll 1 minute. Add the apple slices and cook 3 minutes. Take off the heat and use a fork or a spoon to carefully pick up the apple slices and transfer them to the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Make sure to arrange them prettily (remember the slices will show off on top of the dessert!) Pour an extra ½ cup [125 ml] of caramel over the apples. Store the remaining caramel in a jar.

Make the cakes: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl if you’re using a handheld mixer), mix the melted butter, sugar, and eggs until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. In a small separate bowl, whisk the almond flour, cake flour, and baking powder together; then add half of the mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring just to combine. Add half of the milk, stir to incorporate, and then repeat to add the remaining dry ingredients and milk. Do not overmix.

Pour the batter over the caramelized apples. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached to it. Let the cake cool completely in the pan, set over a wire rack.


Loosen the springform pan and carefully lift if off. Place an inverted serving plate over the cake, then turn it over. Carefully lift the bottom of the springform pan off the top of the cake, running a sharp knife under it to detach apple slices that stick, if necessary. Spread more warm caramel over the top of the cake right before serving. Dreamy with a scoop of vanilla bean gelato!


This cake is best enjoyed within 2 days. You can make the cake in advance, let it cool, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it. Refrigerate any extra caramel in a jar or an airtight container. Reheat the cake in a warm (175°F [80°C]) oven for 15 to 20 minutes before serving, and reheat the caramel in the microwave for a few seconds.


Use dairy-free buttery spread instead of butter, and lactose-free or any dairy-free milk of your choice instead of regular whole milk (I like to use almond milk).

Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin


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