Quince tarte Tatin Recipe

quince

When I moved to Paris, almost immediately I went looking for a tarte Tatin mold. The one I’d bought years ago in Paris, I’d left back in San Francisco.

I suppose could’ve packed it with me, for its third overseas journey but that would be one heck of a carbon footprint for a simple little pan, wouldn’t it?

So I went to my least-favorite kitchenware shop in Paris, where the over-eager salesman, hearing my accent américain, tried to talk to me into a very, very expensive copper mold; the priciest option available. Extricating myself from his clutches (and his hand from my wallet in my back pocket) I left and walked over to Bovida, and bought a far less-expensive non-stick tarte Tatin mold, one that I’ve come to love.


In fact I use it not just for baking, but it’s become my go-to pan for everything from toasting pecans to roasting off a chicken.

quincejelling

There’s some discrepancy in the story of how tarte Tatin got invented. The popular tale says that it was the result of a kitchen mishap where someone dropped a tart, but served it anyways, in its overturned state. I’m not so sure about that myself, but I am sure that it’s one of my favorite desserts of all time, and very popular amongst the French.

And speaking of discrepancies, unlike a classic apple tarte Tatin, this one uses no caramel or butter, and isn’t cooked on the stovetop for ages. It’s basically a reduction of the quince syrup, poached quinces covered with a simple dough, and baked.

rolling dough

The dough is from Room For Dessert, and it’s ridiculously simple. It comes together in about 30 seconds and bakes up sturdy, but flaky. If you don’t have a machine, simply cut the butter in with a pastry blender or mix it quickly with your fingertips.

Rigid classicists…yes, I know you’re out there…say that a true tarte Tatin should only be served nature, by itself, or maybe with a dollop of crème fraîche. Since this isn’t a classic tarte Tatin, feel free to serve a scoop of melting vanilla (or salted butter caramel) ice cream alongside. Assuming the tarte Tatin gendarme aren’t hovering outside your door.

If they are, one bite of this should prod them into showing some leniency.

tartetatinquince


Quince tarte Tatin

Eight servings

The quantity of dough is suitable for any size pan, from 8 to 10-inches (20-26cm). If using a mold at the larger end of that spectrum, simply increase the quantity of quince liquid by about 25%. If quince aren’t your thing, poached pears work just as well.

And don’t worry if the quince syrup gels after it sits for a bit in the pan, as mine did in the photo above. Heat it with a bit more liquid, stirring until it’s smooth again. Extra syrup that collects from the finished tart should be saved to drizzle or brush over wedges of the finished tart, giving them a brilliant sheen.

To make the dough:

  • 1 cup (140g) flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or food processor, blitz together the flour, sugar, salt, and butter, until the butter is in small, but discernible pieces, about the size of large peas.

2. Add the water and mix (or pulse) until the dough just begins to hold together. If it looks too dry, add a sprinkle more water.

3. Use your hands to knead the dough for a couple of seconds, just until it comes together, and shape it into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

To assemble the tarte Tatin:

1. Pour 1 1/4 cup (310ml) of strained quince poaching liquid in a tarte Tatin pan or cast iron skillet.

2. Cook over moderate heat until the liquid is thick and syrupy (the consistency of honey) and remove from heat. The amount should be about 1/4 cup (60ml).

3. Lay poached quince quarters, which have been patted dry, snugly against each other, rounded side down, in the pan. Pack them in tightly as they’ll settle down once baked.

4. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough into a circle a few inches bigger than the pan you’re using.

5. Drape the dough over the quince, tucking in the edges, and bake on a lower rack in a 375F (190C) oven for approximately 45 minutes. The tart is done when the dough is deep golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack for a few minutes to settle, then overturn a rimmed serving platter or baking sheet over the tart, and flip the tart over. You may wish to wear long oven mitts and be sure to take appropriate precautions, as hot liquid will inevitably escape, which you’ll likely want to save to glaze the tart.

Serving: Don’t worry if your tart isn’t picture-perfect. Like the best French rustic desserts, looks take a back seat to taste and imperfections are part of their charm.

Serve warm, or at room temperature. Tarte Tatin should ideally be eaten the same day it’s made. Rewarm in a low oven or microwave before serving, if desired.

43 comments

  • This looks beautiful, and so simple. I looked for quince when I went out the other day, but Safeway didn’t carry it. I really didn’t expect them to but thought I’d look anyway. Whole Foods will, I’m sure. See? Your poached quince got them on my mind. This recipe seals the deal! Thanks for giving them in sequence.

  • After your poached quince recipe I went looking for it in the supermarket here in stockholm but didn´t find it, never seen it here come to think about it…. I will definatly try this unusual tarte tatin recipe with some other poached fruit….I have done it with pears and peaches the “classic” way but never with your dough. Thanx for this one…:-)

    best regards
    Gudmundur Palmason
    http://www.icelandicchef.blogspot.com

  • Oh… baby!! *salivating lustfully*

    A divine union. Starring two of my all-time favorites. Does it get any better than that?

    God David, you really know how to speak my language. I’m going to have to go get a cold drink of water now… *pant* *drool* *pant*

    Here’s praying to all that Bacchus deems orgy-worthy that there will be Quince at this week’s Farmer’s Market!

    XOXOXOX,

    ~ Paula
    (of Ambrosia Quest)

  • Oh David, maybe that over-eager salesman’s hand was not in your back pocket because of your wallet but because of your Daniel Craig-like physique! These posts about quinces remind of a turkish quince dessert that I love… Must go to the market!

  • YUM! Love quince and love tarte tatin, so will definitely be trying this tres bientot.

    Merci!

    Laura in Burgundy (from over at grapejournal.blogspot.com)

  • Great moments in culinary history, part 2716.

    Stéphanie Tatin walks into her neighborhood hardware store in autumn 1898.

    Stéphanie: Faites vous vendez des moisissures*** a Tarte Tatin?

    Storekeeper: Non!.

    Stéphanie: Merci monsieur, au revoir.

    Stéphanie Tatin walks out of her neighborhood hardware store.

    Stéphanie, to herself: Merde, on dirait bien que ce sera tarte aux pommes à nouveau ce soir.

    BTW, now you are on a quince roll perhaps you should try a bletting a quince.

    *** – This is a bogof joke – I know it should be “des moules à Tarte Tatin”.

  • I baked with quince for the first time last weekend and like the results… a very sweet, gooey torte that used grated quince and was served with a grapefruit gelée and cinnamon cream. Quite good.

  • I can almost feel the delicate flavor of the quince in my nose right here. Damn, you’re good :)

  • Hi David,
    This looks so delicious and I love the little fluted effect of the tarte Tatin pan….haven’t seen one like that before. I must look for quince now, surprisingly I have found it before in my very standard local supermarket here in Maine. You have reminded me with all this wafting of quince odours to try out Deborah Madison’s recipe in ‘The Savory Way’ for Quince Almond Cake…..it is a version of Dorie’s Extravagant Almond Cake which I have made a number of times before and it is gorgeous…the addition of quince might well make it sublime!
    Thanks,
    Patricia

  • hehe.. maybe there was something in the air of Paris… look what I posted today!

    http://sandrakavital.blogspot.com/2008/11/symphonie-dautomne-tatin-aux-poires.html

    Quincidende???
    Tarte tatin is sooo good!! I wish I had seen your recipe before I even bother with caramel and use my wine syrup instead!
    BTW, please tell me where is this kitchenware shop: I don’t have an american accent nor a back pocket but I’m french and I wear a dress.. that may be worse!

  • OK, Tarte Tatin is the quintessential French dessert. First trip I ever made to France many years ago, a wonderful country inn had their own in the Loire, and I’ve been hunting for the perfect Tarte Tatin recipe ever since. In fact, the hunt has really gotten on my husband’s nerves in many a French restaurant. David….if you’ve got that recipe, please let us know what the secrets are?

  • One thing that’s clear from your last two posts is that I had no idea what a quince was.

    You walked over to Bovida from your least favorite cookware supply store, eh? If that least favorite starts with a “D” all I can say is that it seemed like paradise a few years ago when I moseyed in as the Euro bought only 90 US cents–and walked back out with more dirt cheap copper than I could ever have imagined.

  • oooo- I want to know your least favorite kitchen store (and your favorite)!

    I adore that rosy color they turn- my best kitchen mistake was when I overcooked quince jelly and ended up passing the ‘pate de fruit’ phase into quice caramel HEAVEN!

    The 2-3 times I have made a tarte tatin I’ve just used a cast iron skillet (I use it ALL the time, being a good southern girl- for cornbread, pan pizza, lots o’ stuff). I didn’t know there was a special pan!

  • Well, I must say, that in buying this tarte tatin mold you have foregone the thrill of lifting and turning an extremely heavy cast iron frying pan filled with boiling butter and sugar and red hot apples/quinces. I mean, without that fear, it’s not true tarte tatin.

    I’m about to make a quince chutney from a Nigella cookbook. I do love her dearly, despite the glam and hype. How can quinces be so overlooked? Here in Califa anyhow.

  • Wow, that looks wonderful. I made an apple tart tatin for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was incredible. I’m ashamed to admit I’d never had one before… As good as this looks, though, I think the thing I have to have RIGHT NOW is the salted butter caramel ice cream.

  • This is the post I’ve been waiting for! Thanks for the link to the pan (which looks like a much more reasonable alternative to the one by Le Creuset), the link to the classic, and your recipe. I’ve tried three different tart tatin recipes (all with apple) recently and although all were fine, none was the one.

  • icelandicchef: Actually this is quite good with pears poached in red wine…and really gorgeous, too. Sandra, who commented above, actually made a pear tarte Tatin recently.

    Anne: This is not really a “classic” Tatin, since you don’t cook the apples down. But it’s really important to use a great-flavored apple for tart Tatin. Check your farmer’s market, if there’s one in your area. That’s one of the secrets of the French tarte Tatin.

    Lorna: It’s really about the quality of the fruit. In France, the Reine des reinette apples are excellent and you can find them in the states, but you have to look. There’s a recipe for a more classic tarte Tatin in my book: Ripe for Dessert. It has a couple quince in it (I couldn’t resist!), but you can swap out apples for them.

  • Hi David,
    I just saw some quince and noticed how they have gone down slightly in price, sign of the times?
    I use them in my stuffing for Thanksgiving and love membrillo so much!
    About Tatin, Nick Malgieri who I recently interviewed has great recipe for it in his Perfect Pastry book, simple and delicious, just don’t burn yourself with the caramel!

  • David,

    I am planning to make my first apple tart Tatin tomorrow. And, if I may humbly beckon the Master…

    What types of great tasting apples should I look for at the farmer’s market? Are we talking Grannies? Or something more sublte and rosy…?

    Also, if you have any other kind and benevolent tips you may wish to bestow upon me, I will be both delighted and supremely grateful.

    *kiss* *smooch* *kiss*

    Yours,

    ~ Paula (of Ambrosia Quest)

  • The luscious photos of gently poached, jewel-pink quinces are driving me crazy since, for the first time since I’ve started looking for them, there’s nary a quince to be found in New York. I’ve scoured the Whole Foods, the Fairway, Chinatown and the Met across the street (hey, you never know), fruitlessly. Is it this cold blast that has done away with the last of the quince? Or is there some remote corner where New Yorkers on here have had more luck?

  • Looks good…

    Next time I’m in France, I’ll be looking for a Kugelhopf mold…. and not just the bundt pans they call Kugelhopf molds here in the US.

  • Yummy. I wonder how this would work with persimmons (Fuyus)…hmmm tarte tatin-o-rama!

  • Ooops! My apologies… I started my comment post above and then stepped away, coming back to finish a few hours later. Meanwhile, I missed your post above, where you already gave up the goods.

    So, my question to you now would be: should I be unable to secure Reine des Reinette apples tomorrow afternoon, and being that I have never tried a Reine des Reinette apple to my knowledge, what varieties common to a Silicon Valley farmer’s market would you recommend?

    The apples in the linked photo resemble Fuji apples, or perhaps Gala (my favorite – so far, anyway), but I will yield to your wisdom and expertise, since I want to stay as authentic as possible.

    And just so you know, my copy of The Perfect Scoop arrived yesterday and I am thrilled!!! I can’t wait to get started this weekend! Only, now I am kicking myself for not picking up Ripe For Dessert, too! Now that’s effective marketing! Props!

    XOXOXOX,

    ~ Paula
    (of Ambrosia Quest)

  • Paula: Apples tend to be seasonal and vary by region, but since you live in the Bay Area, here’s a great guide from The Apple Farm to heirloom apples that may be available in your area. Cox’s Orange Pippin tend to be the best, but I’ve also used Golden Delicious, and had good results. Happy baking.. and churning! : )

    Maureen: I’d’ give it a try! People also make “tarte Tatins” with tomatoes, pears, and I’ve even made one with mangoes, too.

    Tim: You can find ceramic kugelhof molds quite inexpensively if you scour the flea markets. I got my kugelhof mold, which is beautiful glaze ceramic, for less than €5.

  • Coing! Went the strings of my heart.

    One look at your beautiful (picture perfect) photgraphs and a quick perusal of your descriptive recipe were enough to change my carved-in-scones plans re: Turkey Day breakfast sweet. Thanks for both quince recipes. Your tarte Tatin will surely win the day.

  • I missed the quinces at the farmers’ market on the one Saturday I stayed at home. There don’t seem to be so many these days, even here in super abundant Gascony. So I stopped at my local heritage fruit conservatory (yes, there is one 5 minutes away!) and bought two small trees to plant. It may take a couple of seasons, but the wait will be worth the rose colored jelly, sticky membrillo, roasted chunks and, of course, this great Tarte Tatin aux Coings! merci!

  • Hello David,
    Just a quick question: I have non stick pans without handles (TEFAL brand) which can be used in the oven. I always wondered whether I could use them for Tatin, but I was always worried that the caramel might damage the non-stick surface. I see however, that there are specially made non–stick Tatin molds. Do you think I could use the pans?

    Thank you..

    BTW quince is even nicerthan the apple in Tatin!

  • Food Junkie: I’ve made tarte Tatin in my non-stick pan numerous times without problems. I would check with the TEFAL website and make sure their coating is suitable to be heated to around 350-360 degrees fahrenheit, which is about the temperature one cooks a dark caramel to.

    Some advise not to take any non-stick coating above a certain temperature (article), which is information to consider.

  • We don’t grow quince in Hawaii or apples (aside from a few wild ones on the mountains) so I recently made guava tart Tatin, which was awesome. The guavas also attain that lovely deep rose color with a longer cooking. I may try your technique of poaching first, as they have more water in them than apples. It also seems to be a good way of dealing with a lot of fruit and then using them later in various ways. I don’t believe I’ve ever tried a quince.

  • I would advise that you NEVER use anything non-stick at high temperature, especially cake pans that are not made for beeing used directly on the heat.

    The non-stick coating makes some toxic fumes, and you’ll ruin your pan : the non-stick coating will go off the pan into flakes after one or two uses above 200°C. Remember that if it’s coming out when you try to gently wash the pan, you probably have eaten some with what you cooked préviously in the pan :/ …

    for tatin I only use ceramic molds or fire glass ones. Not so easy to get the cake out, but way (WAY) more healthy :) .

  • Merci beaucoup, David! The Pippin were the perfect choice.

    I overcooked my tart, unfortunately, but it was still tasty. Dark, but tasty. I look forward to nailing it on the next try. Maybe I will try Sandra’s gorgeous pear tart, while I’m at it (assuming the Google French-English translation is anywhere near accurate).

    Still looking for Quince… Anyone with a lead, or a tree, in the Bay Area? David’s quince recipes are driving me to distraction! Must have quince…

    Meanwhile, happy Thanksgiving!!

    XOXOXOX,

    ~ Paula
    (of Ambrosia Quest)

  • We should have some quince for sale at the Saturday Palo Alto Farmer’s market, behind the Post Office. We usually have difficulty selling more than a dozen fruits per market. Call us or email if you want to be sure we bring enough.

  • Hello David,
    As a New Yorker transplanted to Greece, there are a lot of things I miss. Quince however, which I love, can be found in piles of huge yellow fruit in every supermarket in Athens. Having tried and loved your quince jam recipe, I moved on to your tarte tatin presented it with great success to our dinner guests, and still have lots of luscious fruit to feast on.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  • Hi David,
    Your tarte was the hit of our Thanksgiving day dinner. On whim asfter stumbling across your blog, I decided to make it, We went to a restaurant with a friend after seeing a movie. We then brought the Quince Tarte Tatin that I had made for our second dessert. Our guest was fanatical about quinces and said that it was very good but too sweet (she easts quinces raw). I poached the quinces as suggested. Not having a cast iron frying pan, I placed a stainless steel plan inside a steel French omelette pan. I had to cook it longer 1 hour and 15 minutes with the last 15 minutes at 425 to brown the crust. I reduced the remaining paching liquid until it was the consistency of jelly, added lemon juuice for tartness (our guest said quinces sometimes were too sweet), brushing the top with the mixture (there was less than 1/2 cup when reduced) with a silicone brush. The pastry was superb (made in the food processor).

    Thank you so much for the recipe. The tarte turned out just as pictured but crumbled a bit when cut. I’d make it again.

    Hi Mark: Glad you liked the tart, but am very surprised your friend eats raw quinces! They’re so tannic, they must have pretty hardy palates. : 0 -dl

  • CC: Thank you for the lead! Alas… I slept in past noon today, and missed the market. But, I plan to go next Saturday (it’s about a 20 minute drive from my house).

    How can I contact you regarding the extra quince supply? You said in your post to email or call, but I don’t have a contact to do either. Do you have a stand at the market?

    Please advise. I look forward to meeting you and to acquiring that heavenly fruit!

    Cheers,

    ~ Paula
    (of Ambrosia Quest)

  • Well worth the effort to seek out the Quince for this. Swapped the pastry dough for regular puff pastry – more akin to the traditional tarte tatin – and added a slug of aromatic rose syrup to the poaching liquid. The quince is related to the rose bush apparently!

    The result? A beautifully delicate coloured dish and a stunning and unique taste that lingers. I served it with homemade cinnamon ice cream.

    Thank you David.

  • And now for comments from the southern hemisphere as we enjoy our quince season. I loved this tart – found the qiunce syrup deliciously spicy and not too sweet – a real grown up flavour.

    I am thrilled to find others who share my opinion of what should be the least loved kitchenware shop in Paris. At least the frosty reception in some of the other shops nearby was accompanied by professional service.

  • The first time I ever tried quince was when my mother-in-law gave me a jar of quince jelly she’d made. It has the most beautiful honey/floral fragrance, and I was hooked.

    I have just stumbled across this as I was looking for a Quince Tarte Tatin recipe! Quince are in season in the Southern Hemisphere now (it’s Autumn). I love the beautiful fragrance of them! Quince are related to pome fruit (apples, pears, nashi, etc.), which belong to the rose family.

    I didn’t know that you could use the fruit from ornamental quince- I might have to see if I can find some.
    Thanks for all the info and gorgeous photos- I have a couple of quince in the fruit bowl, and I’m going off to cook them right now!

  • David, I love it that you love quince! It is THE most sublime fruit. I am hoping to get my typical two bushels from the bushes this year, but the deer have laid waste to the branches, so it may be less. I make canned quince compote, quince jam and preserves, and membrillo….can’t get enough! And now this — can’t wait! Thank you!

  • Had a bumper crop of quinces this year. Now working on my 2nd quince tatin of the week: one for a dinner party (where it was a big hit) and one for me and mine. Just delicious!
    .
    I agree with David: be very careful not to overwhelm the quince with other spices during poaching. My vanilla beans were exceptionally potent so next time, I’ll reduce it to 1/2 a pod and perhaps only 1/2 of a star anise, too.
    .
    To the crust, I substituted 1/3 of the all-purpose flour with cake flour and used vodka for 1/2 of the water. Made for an excellent and flaky crust.
    .
    Thank you, thank you, thank you: love this dessert!

  • Quinces are in season right now in Australia. Made your delicious tart last night, and it was a huge hit! I’m out to the nursery today to buy a quince tree for the orchard. I’m hoping there be many more Quince Tart Tatins next season when the tree bears fruit.

    Thank you for the the great recipe!

    Jessica in Clarendon, Australia

  • Thank you so much for this recipe. i have had a bumper crop this year from my quince tree. I made this today and served it with luscious Cornish clotted cream. It was divine.

    Sue, Worcester, UK