The first time I went to Paris, I found myself on a mission to try tarte tatin.
Let me back up. I went to Paris the summer after my sophomore year on an independent study on surreal art, which basically meant I spent my days in museums pouring over or reading about gorgeous works of splashy, dashed abstract art. I spent the in between time…well, sight-seeing and eating, mostly.
On my list to eat: the requisite French croissants (God, even the chain restaurant croissants were little epiphanies!), macaroons (airy and delicious, but probably not my habitual sweet of choice), a French baguette (there is nothing.better. than a fresh baguette from a French bakery. Nothing. Not even this cake. Not even Sprinkles cupcakes.), French cheese (WHYY. WHY IS CHEESE IN AMERICA SO SUBPAR.), and probably a zillion other dishes I’m forgetting. Oh, and cote de boeuf tomatoes were not on my list, but they are The.Best.Tomatoes in the universe.
But my awesome distant family friend, Tess, mentioned that since I was in Paris, I had to try tarte tatin: the Parisian upside-down apple tart.
Tarte tatin (okay, like that gratin, apparently it’s sort of pronounced like “tart tah-tan,” softening the “n” at the end) is generally made by sauteing a bunch of apples in butter and sugar in a pan, and tucking the crust over the apples before baking. When it’s done, you flip it all over so that the tart base is crowned by bubbling jewels of apples.
It took me awhile into my trip, but I finally had it for the first time while having lunch in a corner cafe near the Notre Dame. I was by myself. In between bites of salad nicoise, I wrote in my journal and people-watched. After the waiter took away my salad place, he set down on the table one of the biggest slices of pie I’d ever seen.
If we’re going to be real, I was a tiny bit apprehensive. Apple pie has never been my favorite dessert and I was worried it wouldn’t be as mind-blowing as it was chalked up to be. I don’t think I need to tell you that my fears were just…silly. The apples were incredibly thick, but tender all the way through, melting into the lusciously flaky crust. That was about when it became a goal of mine to make tarte tatin someday.
I still haven’t made it, but at least I can share these with you!
It’s like the lazy, cakey version of tarte tatin. These brown butter pancakes don’t have very much butter at all, but they almost ooze buttery essence with each satisfying bite. The softened apples, nestled into the bottom (or top) of the pancakes bake in like a bronzed, caramelized mosaic speckled with cinnamon.
Even if it’s blasphemy to call these tarte tatin pancakes, they’re still perfect fall pancakes 🙂
I wish I could share them through the screen! In any case, happy Friday!!! Are you doing anything fun this weekend?
Although you may be tempted to lay the apple slices on right after adding the batter to the pan, WAIT until one side is cooked through and layer them on right before flipping. I think these wouldn’t be bad if you used half a cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose for a whole-grainy taste, but I wouldn’t use all whole wheat. You could also use all AP flour if want a silkier, though nutritionally less dense pancake 🙂
Also, feel free to cut down on the sugar if you like your apples a little less sweet and natural-tasting–use 1 tablespoon instead of 2.
Tarte Tatin Pancakes
A PanPrin original, pancake base inspired by these.
Yield: 10-12 pancakes
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk (I used Silk almond milk)
3 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
2 large Granny Smith apples, sliced into thin wedges
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1) Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Stir constantly until it browns–you should smell a slightly nutty aroma and you’ll see some milk solids gathering at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and remove 2 tablespoons of butter.
2) Combine 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Toss the apple wedges in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set remaining 1 tablespoon of brown butter in the saucepan over medium heat and add the apples. Saute until softened, about 4-5 minutes. You should be able to make an impression with a cooking utensil, but they shouldn’t be falling apart. Set aside.
3) In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and 2 tablespoons reserved browned butter; mix until smooth. Let the batter rest for at least five minutes while you heat the pan.
2) Heat a large, lightly oiled or buttered frying pan over medium high heat. Spoon approximately 3 tablespoons of batter into the pan cup for each pancake. Once the underside is cooked through and bubbles are rising to the top, about 2-3 minutes, press 3-4 apple slices into the exposed surface and flip. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes and serve hot!
If the pancakes are starting to cook too fast or burn after the second or third batch, lower heat to medium or medium low.