ina garten’s apple cake “tatin”


This recipe is unusual in that it is the rare recipe of Ina’s that I wasn’t satisfied with the results. The sugar syrup became hard candy as the cake cooled, and was not at all the effect I was expecting.

6 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the pie plate
1 1/4 Granny Smith apples peeled and cut into 12 wedges each about 1 1/2 inches at the width (I used Fuji apples)
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 extra-large eggs (I used large eggs)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (I used lime)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I used 1/8 teaspoon table salt)
Confectioner’s sugar (I say this is optional; the cake is sweet enough)


Preheat the oven to 350˚F/175˚C.

Generously butter one 9-inch pie plate and arrange the apples in the plate, cut side down. Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup sugar with 1/3 cup water in a saucepan and heat on high heat until the sugar becomes a warm amber color. About 360˚F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Use a silicone brush dipped in water to clean off the sugar from the sides of the pot. Watch the sugar because you don’t want it to burn. When it becomes brown, pour the sugar mixture over the apples in the pie plate.

Use the paddle attachment to cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. You may need to stop the machine to scrape down the sides. Lower the speed and add the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla, beating until just combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour all at once, beating until just combined. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter on top of the apples in the pie plate. Smooth with an off set spatula being careful not to disturb the sugar syrup underneath. Bake 30-40 minutes or until the top is browned and the center springs back when pressed with a finger.

Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Invert onto a serving plate. If any of the apples loosen, just stick them back into the cake. Serve warm with powdered sugar, if desired.

Refrigerate leftovers. Warm the cake before serving to soften the sugar syrup.