apple cake tatin

apple cake 0568

Now, I’ve never been a huge ‘pie’ girl.  All the rolling and cutting and par-baking and fussing… I just don’t have that kind of energy (generally speaking).  As ashamed as I am to admit it… when I do bake a pie, it’s often with the aid of a store-bought crust.   I know, I should probably just go kill myself now.  Especially when we have such dedicated bakers who make such marvelous pies and poor Ms. Natalie can’t be bothered to run her food processor for 30 seconds and wait for the dough to chill after rolling it out.

I should just throw myself off of a cliff.

So when apple pie season rolls in and you’re not a huge pie person but you still want to serve a delightfully autumnal dessert, what’s a girl like me to do?


apple cake

FYI: I find that in much of life’s dilemmas, the answer is usually cake.

I spotted this cake ages ago on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, and it’s been sitting in the back of my brain ever since.  Just gnawing at my willpower.  Whispering from my subconscious to my brain, “make me…”  So, I did!

It basically ends up like a caramel apple upside-down cake, which isn’t as fancy as Ina’s title of “apple cake tatin”, but let’s be realistic here.  This is a caramel apple cake.  I’d bet it’s best served warm with a scoop of melty vanilla ice cream, but a cold slice for breakfast is enjoyable as well.

I mean, it’s healthy… “apple a day” or something like that.

Apple Cake Tatin


  • *6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • *1 1/4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • *1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • *2 large eggs, room temperature
  • *1/3 cup sour cream
  • *1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • *1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • *1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • *1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • *1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • *Confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish (I used a cake pan lined with parchment) and arrange the apples in the dish, cut side down.
  3. Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, and registers about 360 F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don't stir. Pour evenly over the apple slices. Stare in awe while it bubbles.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix just until combined, being careful not to overmix.
  6. Pour the cake batter evenly over the apple slices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If an apple slice sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm with ice cream, or at room temperature.

[ Adapted from Barefoot Contessa ]

14 thoughts on “apple cake tatin

  1. This looks so yummy! I’m not bad at making pies, but I still prefer cakes. Pie crust leaves a gross, greasy feeling in my mouth. Anyway, this is gorgeous and so perfect for fall. Hope your wedding planning is going well!!! 😉

    • I’m not “bad” per se, just… lazy. haha!

      Wedding planning, I don’t even want to think about it! FILL ME WITH ALL OF YOUR WEDDING KNOWLEDGE!!!

  2. I probably would not be such a “pie/tart person” except that I was fortunate enough to have my mom teach me the basics. And she never chilled the dough! But I also enjoy cake! The Apple Cake Tatin is just scrumptious!

    • I think I should probably just start making pie crusts… and freezing the dough! That way I don’t have to “make” a new pie crust every time, but I’m still doing a “from scratch” pie…. I think I’m liking this idea.

  3. you made me think just now: do i like making pies better than cakes? cakes better than pies? are they both better than making other things? WHO KNOWS! but i do know this: pie cake (i.e. this apple cake tatin) is perfect. any upside down cake fruit thing is. 🙂

    • haha if i’m in the *right* mood, pie-making can be kinda zen with the cutting and the rolling and the shaping… but most of the time I prefer the stir-and-pour method of a cake lol

  4. I do pretty well with pies and dough, but I’m not really a pie person. I’ll eat the heck out of pie crust, but I eat maybe 3 pieces of pie a year, and two of those fall over Thanksgiving. I stink at making cakes, but I like eating them better. 🙂 I haven’t attempted an upside-down cake of any kind….With my luck, the fruit would all make its way to the top!

    • I’m the same way! The rest of the family is forced to eat crustless pies on Thanksgiving because SOMEONE eats all of the crust /looks around

      Boyfriend has your upside dilemma covered, he says “if it floats to the top, just flip it back over!” 🙂 PROBLEM SOLVED! You should try out THIS CAKE RECIPE. You can skip the complicated frosting and just use a regular one instead – I promise you that this cake is EASY and it’s never let me down!

  5. I overdid it on pies a few years back, and since then I’ve become more cakey in the dessert persuasion realm. I finally did make good on a months-long craving for chocolate cream pie (is that really pie? it’s more like shaped pudding) recently, and since the craving was so sudden and strong, I USED PRE-BOUGHT CRUST. And……. the world did not end. And it tasted delicious. It was life-changing.

    • Haha! RIGHT!? I’m totally down with the store-bought crust. I don’t even care anymore. AND, I’ve had a chocolate cream pie bookmarked since like March that I haven’t gotten around to making… because I’m too lazy to make the crust.. The craving will eventually consume me and I’ll have to give in lol

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