Tarte Tatin (French Upside Down Apple Pie) – Car Camping Version

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Tarte Tatin is a classic French dessert, but it is really a very straight-forward version of apple pie which is quite doable in a car camping situation.

Sweet Tarte Crust

1-1/4 cups all purpose flour

½ tsp salt

2 Tbs sugar

10 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into small slivers

1 egg yolk

3 Tbs ice water (plus more if necessary)


½ cup of flour in a ziplock baggie


Caramalized Apple Filling

6 Granny Smith or other baking apples (if the apples are very large, 5 is enough)

Juice of ½ lemon

1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tbs.)

¾ cup sugar

Optional whipped cream

Equipment at Camp

Dutch oven

Frying pan

Cake pan

Nalgene bottle

Aluminum foil

Hot pads

Serving plate

Cooking spoon



At home, make the sweet tart crust. Combine the flour, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a food processor by pulsing once or twice. Spread the butter pieces over the surface of the flour mixture and pulse briefly until combined, but with still visible butter chunks. Add the egg yolk and pulse a few more times until combined.

Put the dough mixture in a large bowl. Sprinkle with water then using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Form the dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate. Store in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days or freeze if prepared longer in advance. Bring to camp in a cooler.

At camp, make the caramelized apple filling. Peel, core and quarter the apples. Put them in a ziplock baggie with the lemon juice. Put the butter in a frying pan and sprinkle on top the sugar. Then spread the apples and lemon juice over the sugar, pressing them in. Put the frying pan over medium-high heat and cook about 15 minutes until the mixture is a nice brown.

Here are the apples for two tartes cooking in a large frying pan.

Working quickly, spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of a cake pan.

While the apple mixture is cooking or cooling in the cake pan, roll out the dough. Put a large piece of aluminum foil on the work table and sprinkle with flour. Roll out the dough using a nalgene bottle or other large cylinder until the dough is circular and about an inch wider than the cake pan. Put the dough on top of the apple mixture, and tuck the dough around the sides of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork.

Put the cake pan in a Dutch oven and cook at a moderate temperature until the dough is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the Dutch oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to ensure that the crust is loose, and shake the pan to loosen any apples stuck the bottom of the pan. Invert the tarte into a serving plate, working carefully since the filling will be hot. Quickly scrape off any filling which is stuck to the cake pan and add it to the tarte.

If desired, serve with whipped cream

Alternative – Cook apple mixture directly in cake pan on the stove.


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