The big question about the tarte Tatin:
Was the tarte Tatin really the result of an accident in the kitchen?
Did Caroline and Stéphanie, (Hotel Tatin's owners) create something truly original or did they appropriate knowledge and practices that were commonplace in Sologne at the time?
You can read many different stories about it and it's really difficult to find the truth. But the one I prefer is:
Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert.
The sisters never set out to create a "signature dish".
They never even called it Tarte Tatin. That recognition was bestowed upon them by Curnonsky and Maxim's after their death. They just focused on making the best possible tarte, using mostly apples, but also other fruits such as pears, which abound in the region.
They slowly perfected their tarte during the 1880s and 1890s, helped by their cooks and the local community, which provided feedback and tips.
Mistakes can be delicious.
To cook a tarte Tatin with us!