Pear Tarte Tatin or Upside Down Pie

Days are getting shorter and nights are getting colder. It’s middle of October and middle of autumn for that matter, summer is long gone and it’s time for new recipes! Maybe that is why I woke up yesterday surprised with the cold air outside of my cozy blanket and right away I knew I wanted to make a warm fruity and comfort pie to balance out this unstoppable season change… well, and also to complement our dinner with a French dessert! So I decided to make a Pear Tarte Tatin that I tasted once in a French restaurant in Geneva :)

Pear Tarte TatinPear Tarte Tatin

But first, did I tell you, how 2.5 months of my recipes, photos and notes simply disappeared after the new iOS update? That’s a very sad story. iOS 8.0.2 was supposed to be bug-free and install without problems but that’s no excuse for me to not checking when was the last back-up date… Pity, such a pity. Long story short, after I installed the update, my phone restarted, worked for 1 minute and went into a “Recovery Mode”, in which I was suggested to connect my iPhone to iTunes and to restore it to factory settings and then restore from the latest back-up that was made in July. I was devastated – for the last 3 weeks I was so busy that I didn’t have time to write but I kept collecting things (such as a new recipe with pictures for delicious layered Carrot Cake..), leaving them “for later”. Lesson learned – back-up consistently and do everything on time.

Now, about that pie! You know how I like to share recipes that are easy to make and do not require any super special equipment – remember, Apple Pie Szarlotka or Banana Bread? This easy and tasty pie recipe will not disappoint you, moreover I would say it’s the easiest way to create a “fancy” homemade French dessert with just one frying pan and impress your loved ones with your baking skills! But sshhhhh… don’t tell anybody how easy to bake it really was! ;)

I’ve searched the web for recipes and found so many different techniques to making this pie! Sugar then butter, butter then sugar, brown first without fruits, brown with fruits, bake at one temperature throughout the process, bake at high temperature then lower it down, take the pie out of the pan straight away after it baked or cool it down first… Is your head exploding too because of the options? Well, I did the heavy part for you and I think that this combination is the most comfortable to do at home even when you don’t have pie platter, baking pan or oven mitts for that matter :)


Pie Crust (same crust recipe and technique from Peach Pie, but halved actually, a little modified):

  • 112 g unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (I enjoy the salty aftertaste of the pie crust after very sweet caramel taste of the filling. But feel free to cut back to 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp ice-cold water


  • 900 g pears (not too soft)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 tbsp butter (used unsalted butter)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • additional 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp lemon juice

Makes one Pear Tarte Tatin in a 25 cm/10-inch pan. As easy as it gets :)

The crust making. Cut your butter in small cubes and put in the freezer while you’re measuring and mixing together flour, sugar and salt. The butter has to be extremely cold and it shouldn’t melt much while you’re making the dough if you want to have a flaky beautiful pie crust. Last time I wrote about magic of the pizza cutter in the crust making, so check it out if you have a minute. So, I placed butter in a bowl on top of the flour mix and started working with pizza/dough cutter from side to side and back and forth and in 5 minutes I had a perfect butter-flour-crumble. Then, I added half of the water and worked it in with a spatula, then added the remaining water and with my hands knead the dough for a couple of minutes just enough for the ingredients to stick together and dough to become soft and smooth (but at no point should the butter really melt. You should be able to see your butter cubes in the dough). Add 1 tbsp of water if the dough seems too dry. Tip: wear a disposable plastic kitchen glove when kneading and rolling the dough if you don’t want to spend extra time cleaning the dough leftovers off your hands :)

IMG_6979 IMG_6954

Because this time it is a half crust recipe and we only need a single crust, there’s no need to divide the dough in two parts. Just cover it with plastic wrap, smash a little to form a disc and send to fridge for minimum an hour or up to 2 days. Just before working with the dough later, I put it in the freezer for 5 minutes but that’s just me being always worried that butter will melt and I will not get the crust I want.

Okay, I know that every recipe says to use a skillet, but I only have IKEA teflon frying pans. They are my all-purpose pans ;) I took a plastic handle off one and I use it now for recipes that call for a oven-proof baking pan. And it works out just fine! Yes, probably my pears would not burn a little if I used a skillet but I find that it didn’t affect the taste of this beautiful tarte tatin. Afterall, legend says that this pie was a result of a mistake that French chef once made cooking the apples for too long and then deciding to cover them with a crust and bake it anyway :)

Peel and cut pearsArrange pears cut side up on the panFirst step – caramelize pears. Peel and cut them in half and clean the middle. Leave one half piece to place in the centre of the pie later and cut the rest of the halves… in half ;) Place in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp sugar, add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger and toss to cover.

Melt butter in the pan over medium heat. Once melted add sugar, spread in an even layer and start placing pears cut side UP on the pan. This cut-side-up thing only appeared to me after I finished arranging the pears on the pan and I had to do it all over again, so be attentive :) Try to leave minimum space between pears and place them with the narrow side to the center. After you finished, return the pan on a medium heat and let it caramelize without stirring for 10-15 min until butter and sugar turn brown and get thicker.

Caramelizing Pears

... until they get brown

While the pears are caramelizing, preheat oven to 200C, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it on a floured surface in a circle form(generously sprinkle flour on top of the dough disk as well). Use a plate or platter that match your pan size to check the right circle diameter. Return the rolled dough to the fridge. If you don’t have enough space in the fridge, use the plastic film to place it on one side of the circle and fold it in half.

When the pears are ready, let them rest for 10 min off-heat. Now, the trickiest part – covering filling with the dough. The pan is hot and the filling is too, so you have to do it quickly and so the dough edges won’t melt. Place the dough circle on the pan and using a fork or a small spatula work your way around the pan and tuck the edges under the filling. I had to repeat it twice while the pie was in the oven just to make sure the crust will shape right. Make 3-4 cuts in the crust to let the steam come out.

Place a piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet to catch any juices that could escape the pan. Place the baking (or frying:)) pan in the center and send it to the oven. Bake for 5 min and reduce heat to 175C; bake for additional 30-35 min until the crust is golden brown and baked through.

Now, there are many suggestions on how to take the pie out and I think I found the easiest one. Let the pie cool for an hour in the pan, then let it warm up over the medium heat for 3-4 min. This would release our beautiful tarte tatin but wouldn’t make the pan unbearably hot to turn it over. Wear oven mitts or use a kitchen towel for this step – take the pan off heat, place your plate or platter on top and turn it over. Give it minute and slowly lift the pan up. Your pear pie will now reveal all its beauty on the plate!

Serve warm or cold, alone or with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Sorbet would be a good choice to serve it with too for those who doesn’t enjoy a dessert that is sweet sweet.

This pie offers a taste that will confuse but then excite you and make your tasting experience very enjoyable! A warm melting sweet taste of soft pears along with a crunchy slightly salty pie crust.

Pear Tarte TatinPear Tarte Tatin with Ice-cream

Enjoy :)


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