Pear Tarte Tatin

French classic, tarte tatin aux poires, upside down pear tart with flakey pastry crust.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick, 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup full fat sour cream

Filling:

  • 2 pounds firm bosc pears (about 5 pears)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar plus 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 teaspoons of minced candied ginger
  • Light grating of fresh nutmeg (or a dash of ground nutmeg)

Equipment needed:

  • A well-seasoned 9-inch or 10-inch cast iron pan
  • Rimmed serving plate or pie plate

Method

1 Make the pastry dough. Cube the butter and put it in a bowl in a warm place. In a separate large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Use your hands or a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour until you see small, pea-sized pieces of butter. Stir in the sour cream with a fork. Form the dough into a ball and shape into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling out. (See more instructions here: No Fail Flakey Pastry Crust Recipe.) While waiting for the dough, prepare the pears and the caramel in steps 2 through 5.

2 Peel and halve the pears lengthwise. Reserve one pear half for the center of the tarte, and cut the remaining halves once more lengthwise.  Core the pear quarters and the half. As you peel and cut the pears, place them in a bowl and sprinkle some lemon juice over them to keep them from turning brown. Sprinkle the pear pieces with 2 Tbsp sugar and toss to distribute the sugar and lemon juice over all the pears.

pear-tarte-tatin-1 pear-tarte-tatin-2

3 Melt butter in cast iron pan on medium heat. Swirl the butter so that it coats the sides of the pan as well. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of sugar over the butter in an even layer. Remove the pan from heat.

pear-tarte-tatin-3 pear-tarte-tatin-4

4 Place the single pear half, cut side up, in the center of the pan. Fan the remaining pear quarters, with the narrow side pointing toward the center, around the center pear half. Angle them as you go as to fit all of the pears in. Try to minimize any gaps.

pear-tarte-tatin-5 pear-tarte-tatin-6

5 Return the pan to medium heat and gently cook, without stirring the pears until the sugar butter mixture turns a deep caramel color, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a baking sheet pan.

6. Sprinkle the pears with grated nutmeg and minced candied ginger.

7 Preheat your oven to 375°F. Roll out the pastry dough to 11 inches if using a 9-inch cast iron pan and 12 inches if using a 10-inch pan. Place the pastry dough over the pears and gently tuck the edges inside the edge of the pan. Careful, the pan is still hot. I find using a fork helps to ease the dough inside the edges of the pan.

pear-tarte-tatin-7 pear-tarte-tatin-8

8 Place the pan in the oven (on the baking sheet to catch any spill over) and reduce the heat to 350°F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until pastry is baked through and nicely browned. Remove from oven.

pear-tarte-tatin-9 pear-tarte-tatin-10

9 Place a rimmed serving dish or a pyrex or ceramic pie dish over the pan. Wearing thick, well insulating oven mitts or pot holders, using two hands to hold the dish firmly over the pan, flip them over, releasing the tarte tatin to the plate. The caramel is hot and liquid-y and can easily spill, so take care and work quickly. Don't worry if some of the liquid spills out, just make sure to wear oven mitts (or long sleeves) and an apron to protect yourself as you do the flip. Flip the tarte over  while the tarte tatin is still hot, that way the caramel will not make the tarte stick to the pan as you invert it. The pears will likely have moved a bit in the flip-over, so rearrange them with a fork (they're hot!) so they form an attractive pattern.

Let cool to room temperature before serving. Serve with a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.

Comments

  1. Sandy S

    Elise, between you and I, we are going to make my father very happy! From time to time he has told me about an ‘apple pie’ that his mother made in a cast iron pan. He didn’t now how it was made, but it didn’t have a crust on top. He has always said it was his favorite. I think you have just helped me figure out this mystery! I will forgo my GF ways and swap out the candied ginger and nutmeg for cinnamon/apple pie spices and make an apple tarte tatin just for him.

  2. Irene Rothschild

    Hi Elise, thank you for your wonderful and homespun blog. I have tried a number of your recipes and have been very pleased with your presentation as well as the results. This week-end I will be going up to the Aderondacks where my children will be skiing, and I will be the designated cook. I am planning on trying the Pear Tatin, but am wondering about the small amount of flour in the pastry, especially in proportion to the amount of fat, and am also wondering if that will make enough pastry for the one crust.

    • Elise

      Hi Irene, tarte tatin is often made with puff pastry, which has a higher ratio of fat to flour than this recipe, so no worries there. I used the crust recipe with the amounts given for a 9 inch and a 10 inch cast iron pan, with extra dough both times. The sides of this crust aren’t as high as a normal pie, so you don’t need as much.

  3. Carla

    Beautiful! Here’s a warning for others. Make sure you use Bosc or some other firm pear. I don’t buy pears often, but after seeing the recipe, I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay enough attention to the variety. In case you thought maybe Bartlett pears would work, think again. I just did a little research to learn that Bartletts would not hold their shape at all – they would turn to mush! Okay, I’m going back to the grocery for Bosc pears. No harm done, we can eat those Bartletts out of hand. Can’t wait to make the tart for Christmas!

    • Carla

      We made it, and it was absolutely delectable! The crust fell apart some, but it looked rustic :-). We took the liberty of splashing a little bit of pear brandy over it and that didn’t hurt a bit. Yum!

  4. Sarah

    This turned out sooo tasty, although my crust didn’t do what it was supposed to…sort of cracked and fell apart during the baking process :( I was using pastry flour, maybe that was the issue?? Didn’t even attempt to invert it, just scooped it out and served with homemade whipped cream. Delectable! Makes a great breakfast too :)

    NB: if you’re out buying your Bosc pears, buy a couple more than you think you may need. I bought 5, but it turned out one of them was bad in the middle. It worked with 4 large ones, but barely, and there were noticeable gaps which probably contributed to the crust falling apart. Not really the issue you want to be having in the middle of putting this together!

  5. Colleen

    Elise,
    You made my Christmas dinner absolutely divine with this recipe! The pear tartin was heavenly and enjoyed by all. Thank you!

  6. Sherry

    It’s looks very delicious! thanks but I have a problem we don’t have sour cream!!!!!!!!!!! what can I do ? I love to make it!

  7. cora

    Received a beautiful box of pears for Christmas. I’ve used a couple in juice drinks. My sister raved about our aunt’s pear tart recipe, sounds like it might be (the same) as yours. My dilemma is my cast iron fry pan has ridges. Should I purchase a new one? (then it won’t be seasoned). I am real excited to try your recipe! Seems almost a waste to use these beautiful pears in a juice drink!

    • Elise

      So your cast iron pan is more like a grill pan? Yep, that won’t work. It’s not that hard to season a new cast iron pan (you can Google it), or you can often find great used ones, already seasoned, at thrift stores.

  8. Cookie Roberson

    This is the best and simplest recipe yet. I was in the midst of making pear tart tatin with another recipe and stopped because it wasn’t working….Went to this web site and found your recipe..Eureka….made it yesterday and it was a big hit with company last night. Will use it again and again…Used bosc pears…