Pineapple Tarte Tatin {ModBak}

I knew this week’s recipe for the Puff Pastry section of the Modern Baker Challenge was going to give me trouble. Like my well-known issues with pie crusts, I’ve always struggled with caramel. It goes from amber to burnt so quickly, and I usually end up having to make it twice. Nonetheless, I bought my pineapple, assembled my ingredients, and got to work.

I began by roasting the pineapple until it was cooked and slightly dried.

While the pineapple cooled, I made the caramel sauce. This recipe is unique in that the tatin is baked in the same pan that you use for the caramel sauce. One of the problems with this is that the caramel continues to cook after you remove it from the heat, so you have to be careful not to overcook it.

I, of course, overcooked it. It very quickly went from this…

…to this…

…to this.

In my own defense, I don’t think the caramel was actually overcooked when I took it off the heat. But it, of course, kept cooking after I removed it from the heat. I turned my attention to the pineapple, and by the time I got back to the pan, the caramel looked a bit overdone.

The caramel contained sugar, corn syrup, water, and butter and only took about 10 minutes to make; so I should have made it again as soon as I suspected it was burnt. But, of course, I didn’t. I layered on the pineapple, covered the top with puff pastry dough, and baked it.

Another issue created by the hot pan was that the puff pastry dough started to melt when I laid it over the top of the tatin. This didn’t seem to negatively impact the baked tart too much.

I let the tatin cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turned it out onto a plate.

It smelled delicious with the caramel and pineapple, and I was hopeful that the caramel hadn’t overcooked to the point of bitterness.

After the tarte had cooled, I cut a slice and plated it with some homemade vanilla ice cream.

One bite was all it took. The pineapple was sweet and well-caramelized. But the caramel was overcooked and inedible. I ate the ice cream (no sense wasting that), then threw out the slice and the rest of the tatin.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a particularly difficult or time-consuming recipe, nor did it call for a lot of ingredients. But it was still a huge disappointment. Don’t get me wrong: there was nothing wrong with the recipe as written. All of my problems were operator error. 

Unfortunately, they were enough to ruin the entire tatin. And it made me that much more anxious about the next recipe: apple tarte tatin. It’s the same basic recipe made with raw apples instead of roasted pineapple. You’ll have to come back in a few days to see how that turned out.


  1. September 10, 2012 at 8:23 am

    […] misadventures with caramel are legend (although I’ve had some successes, too). At least I’m at the point of not fearing […]

  2. January 16, 2012 at 8:08 am

    […] step was to make the caramel. Despite my previous issues with making caramel for semolina cake and pineapple tatin, I have since had better success with caramel, so I felt pretty good about making the filling for […]

  3. Kayte said,

    September 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

    More a matter of good timing than being tricky, but I think that the one thing that everyone has trouble with is when to know when it is done before it goes to “too done.” Some people like the almost-burnt taste of it when it goes this far, so those people would be drooling over this, I’m sure…and just the idea of those pineapples with the caramel is cautioning me to make this ONLY when others are around to help eat it!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 12, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Thanks. I still like your idea of making caramel every day for a week or so until I have it down.

  4. September 12, 2011 at 7:30 am

    […] my recent tatin disaster, you’d think I wouldn’t want to rush right back in and try another one. But as […]

  5. Heather said,

    September 11, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I JUST made the Apple Tarte Tatin tonight. It was my THIRD attempt – having burnt the caramel 2 other times a couple weeks ago. So, maybe that will make you feel better. I know that reading your post made me feel a little better about my failed attempts. : ) It’s so frustrating! If not for the fact that the Apple Tarte Tatin was my choice for MB, I would have given up a long time ago. And despite tonight’s success (and by ‘success’ – I mean relatively speaking), I will steer clear of these types of desserts from now on. I’ll get the post to you as soon as I can download the pix. I’m sorry to hear you experienced the same frustration…but it does make me feel a little better nonetheless.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks. The brotherhood of common suffering! My apple tatin will be posted in the morning — check back if you have a chance. Can’t wait to see your post!

  6. Margaret said,

    September 11, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Sorry you had caramel trauma again. Sounds like me making a roux. Ah well. One day. Licking to this one with apples.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 11, 2011 at 9:30 am

      I don’t have any trouble with roux, but caramel gets me every time.

  7. September 11, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Hi Phyl,
    Just my two cents worth but I believe by the second picture you could take it off the heat and allow the residual heat from the pan to brown the caramel.

    I’m sure the Apple Tart Tartin will turn out fine.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

      I think you’re probably right. It’s tricky, since the caramel stays in the pan and the whole thing is baked in it.

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