PhotoRecipe: Plum Tarte Tatin

Dear friends & eaters,

To celebrate Julia Child’s 100 birthday I decided to post one of my favorite recipes that I actually learned from her masterpiece “Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My mother in law Lynne gave me her copy when I got married and it is the original first edition so I keep it as one of the treasures in my cookbook collection. I never watched Julia Child growing up because we did not have her show in Italy.  I have watched her on Youtube and find her refreshing, fun and even it her food is traditional to me her personality is anything but. Julia Child was a fearless woman who was never afraid to laugh at herself and the conventional world around her.


Back to the recipe: French cooking from the 50s and 60s is sometimes too complicated for the urban homecook, but there are few dishes that can translate very well even if you have a small kitchen.  In honor of my “dutch aunt” Julia Child (no, not really) I decided to begin the “Cast Iron Skillet Series”.  This series of recipes will showcase the many uses of what I believe is the most versatile tool in anyone’s kitchen. It also comes just in time for back to school so if you are sending your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews to college and they need to cook for themselves for the first time in their live you can be sure that they will find a source of recipes on this website that will make them VERY popular in the dorms!

So we begin with a tarte tatin: an upside down fruit tart that can be cooked in the cast iron skillet and includes an aggregate of 4 ingredients… no people I am not turning into the 5 ingredients lady but if you need to teach teenagers to cook, you’d better make it simple or they will lose interest.

For the nerds like me out there, here is a little bit of history: Tarte Tatin was invented by the Tatin sisters (Stephanie and Caroline) by mistake. See the two sisters had a hotel in Loret-Cher, France and one day they had a full house because the hotel was fully booked with the participants to a hunting trip. Stephanie (the chef) was too busy to make her famous apple pie and at dinner time she realized there was no dessert to be served to the hunters.  So she caramelized some sugar and butter and placed the apples in the mold…. but the evening was so hectic that she completely forgot the dough.  It was Caroline, the other sister who realized the mistake and decided to put the dough on top and reverse the pie at the end of the cooking process. Needless to say the tarte was a success and it became the signature dish of the hotel.  In my version of the tarte tatin I use plums and to make it extra easy for novices you can use store bought pie crust.




  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of granulated sugar
  • 1 lb of plums, pit removed and quartered
  • 1 box of premade pie crust (thawed if necessary)

Preheat the oven at 400F.  Place sugar and butter in the cast iron skillet over medium heat to caramelize.  Stir the caramel from time to time so that it browns evenly.  The caramel should be a light brown color, so keep an eye on it or it will burn faster than you can say pasta.

In the meantime roll out the dough and set aside.  When the caramel is ready (about 10 minutes) turn off the heat and let it cool.  Position the slices of plums on top of the caramel with the round part towards the board of the cast iron skillet (pit side to the centre). Keep positioning the plum slices in circles until you reach the center of the skillet, then place the dough on top of the plums.  Make sure that the sides of the dough are securely tucked in towards the plums.  With a fork make some holes in the dough to let the steam escape.  Place the skillet in the medium rack of the oven.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until the dough is completely cooked and flaky to the touch.  When the tarte is ready remove from the oven. Take a plate that is bigger than the diameter of the skillet and place it on top of the skillet.  Using oven mitts, invert the skillet and release the tarte J.  If there are plums stuck to the skillet, gently remove them and position them on the tarte according to the geometrical pattern.

Serve warm with some whipped cream, vanilla icecream or frozen yogurt!