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

Traditional Tarte Tatin turned into a lovely cake doused in maple caramel, what’s not to like? Tatin Cake will quickly become one of your new classics. {Jump to Recipe}

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: 1/2 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!

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

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 servings

Traditional Tarte Tatin turned into a lovely cake doused in maple caramel, what's not to like? Tatin Cake will quickly become one of your new classics.

Ingredients

For the caramel
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) salted butter
  • 1 cup (250 ml) granulated maple sugar (or substitute brown sugar)
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) Cognac (optional)
  • 1/2 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
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) salted or unsalted butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) granulated maple sugar (or substitute cane sugar, or regular granulated sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 ml) almond flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) milk

Instructions

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 1/2 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 hand 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, all-purpose flour, and baking powder together. 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.

SERVING: Loosen the springform pan and unmold the cake. 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. This cake is dreamy served with a scoop of vanilla bean gelato!

STORAGE: 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.

Notes

Don’t throw that seeded vanilla pod away! Add it to a jar of sugar to make vanilla-infused sugar, add them to simmering jams, or use them to infuse warm milk or cream that will be used to make hot chocolate, gelato, ice cream, custards, panna cotta, or sweet sauces.

Courses Dessert

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Brown Butter Apple Blondies with Salted Butterscotch Glaze // FoodNouveau.com

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Layered Apple Cake with Caramelized Apple Buttercream and Maple Walnut Crumble

Layered Apple Cake with Caramelized Apple Buttercream and Maple Walnut Crumble // FoodNouveau.com

What do you think of this recipe? Got any questions? Let's chat!
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15 Responses to Tatin Cake (a.k.a. Upside-Down Apple Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce)

  1. Yum! Upside down cake style is always a treat and the carmel and apples would make the cake ever so moist. Well done.

  2. Beautiful photos! Love that the cake is a bit denser to standup to the weight of the apples and caramel sauce. And congrats again on your nomination! I’m heading on over to vote.

  3. Your cake looks wonderful. I’m glad Skillshare mentioned you — they are suggesting I follow your lead. I’ve been voting for you on Saveur. Whereas your cooking has a French accent, mine is Italian. I should have read your directions for your tatin before I made my Italian plum cake. It started out round in a spring form pan but the butter leaked so I made it in a square pan. It was meant to be a birthday cake for my daughter. My next challenge is your macarons. Buona giornata!

    • Thank you for your vote Marisa. Teaching for Skillshare is a fun experience! I’m sure you’d have a lot to share. I love that you made the cake with plums, it must be delicious! I’ll have to try that next time.

  4. Tart Tatin is one of my favourite desserts but I sLo hesitate to make it because of the pastry. Thanks to your recipe I will be making it more often. It looks delicious!

    Congrats on your Saveur nomination.

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