Chinese 5 spices and Tamarind Apple tarte tatin

Apple tarte tatin with Chinese five spices and tamarind! A healthy recipe!

Cake challenges, Healthy cakes and snacks

Sometimes things just happen.  Like running out of cinammon so you open a previously neglected jar of tamarind paste.  And before you realise what’s happening it’s in your Apple Tarte Tatin!!  Because you thought it would complement the Chinese five spices, the lemon and the ginger in the spelt flour shortcrust pastry.  And it really does!  I ate half the tart in one go because I couldn’t stop.  Also due to the delicious maple syrup caramel of course.  And why a Tarte Tatin?  Well, I recently became one of the Daring Bakers!  No, we don’t jump out of planes with whisks or down waterfalls in our aprons.  We boldly dare to bake new things, like tarte tatin for the March challenge – I know it’s April but I’ll explain later.  Anyway, now you see the whole chain of events leading up to tamarind paste becoming the new cinammon in my Apple tarte tatin!  And I don’t usually say ‘make this!’ but I want to because you’d love this sugar-free healthy dessert – it’s absolutely divine with the tamarind taking the spices to a really lovely place.  And you can eat half of it and not feel heavy! 🙂I am challenged!

So I’m late for the Daring Kitchen’s March tarte tatin challenge, but there were extenuating circumstances:  I was approved right at the end of March and in the middle of my multiple Babka Easter bread experiment.  So they kindly said I could delay.  It’s now April with a new ‘secret’ challenge but that’s a whole other story and post!

DSCF7320The plan – hmm, which pastry and apples?

WP_20140209_19_37_30_SmartShoot[1]Back to the Tarte tatin.  Well, I made a classic one last year which looked lovely though the puff pastry was slightly underdone to put it mildly.  You can’t tell from the photo though… hee hee!  The caramel was beautiful and made when I was more cavalier about using sugar.

This time I thought I’d challenge myself to make a ‘healthy’ tarte tatin with a maple syrup caramel and spelt flour, which is not the best option for puff pastry so I made a shortcrust.  And used my favourite apples:  russets (reinettes).  I only ever buy these apples to eat and cook with, completely ignoring all other kinds.  In Wikipedia they’re described as having ‘a rich, nutty flavour and crisp, firm and fairly juicy flesh’.  In the Spanish version they mention a ‘sour-sweet’ taste.  Anyway, they’re very interesting and if you’re making a Tarte tatin which is at least 80% apple I guess it’s worth choosing your fruit carefully.

Apple, tamarind paste and Chinese 5 spices

Russett (reinette, but not reine des reinettes) apple, tamarind paste and Chinese five spices

Korena from Korena in the Kitchen set the challenge (thank you Korena!) and offers recommendations on various apple types like Golden Delicious or Granny Smith in her post Daring Bakers:  Tarte Tatin.  She also recounts a story behind this accidental tart!  And the amazing website is dedicated to revealing its secrets and ‘Helping you Bake a Better Tarte Tatin!’  They mention the Reine des reinettes apple classically used in France, not peeling the apples, and another famous version of the story:  did the Tatin sister really slip and drop her tart, saving it by turning it upside down?  That’s the big question … !

The techniques I used are more or less standard for the ‘caramel’ stage.  With maple syrup you don’t get such an effective caramel coating but a healthier and tastier tart!  If you can live with a more ‘rustic’ look to your tarte tatin then this is a delicious way to go.

Maple syrup tarte tatin

A ‘rustic’ maple syrup tarte tatin

This time I stirred the apples in the caramel to coat them but with the French method I used last year you place the cut apples carefully in position in the caramel and cook, covered with a lid, on low heat without stirring (which is why you use a tin or pan that goes both on the oven ring and in the oven – so you don’t ‘disturb’ the apples).  You can also place the apples to cook slowly in a very low oven (see the Friends of the Tarte Tatin classic recipe).  I was very tempted to try this for a tart version number 3 (yes, I’ve made two so far) but I’m trying not to repeat another experience like last week’s multiple-Babka madness!

So I’ll keep it simple and show you how to make a rustic but extremely delicious Asian-spiced apple tarte tatin!  And someone tie me to a chair please – I’m that close to going out and buying more apples for further experimentation!!  Noooo … don’t do it!!! (talking to myself)

The recipe (for a 22cm diametre tin)

Make the pastry.  My Making Shortcrust Pastry page (under Basics) has pastry tips but just don’t overwork it or it becomes tough.  Oh and use plain flour if you prefer..  Conversions:  125g/1 cup plain flour and 45g/3 tablespoons butter

Making pastry

DSCF7424 (3)While the pastry is resting in the fridge

  • preheat the oven to 190°C (static, non-convection oven) or 170°C (fan-assisted oven).
  • Peel, core and slice around 4 or 5 russett apples (or 6 to 8 smaller ones) to get thick slices.  It’s better to have too many than suddenly too few for the tin!  (eat the leftover apple slices)

Peel and slice the applesPrepare these ingredients

(you can replace the tamarind paste with ground cinammon if you prefer) 

Conversion:  20g/1 and a half tablespoons butter

For a slightly sweeter version with more ‘caramel’ (note:  the less sweet, the more you taste the apple):

  • 30g/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Three quarters tbsp lemon juice
  • a quarter teaspoon + one eighth tsp (sorry!) tamarind paste
  • a quarter tsp + one eighth tsp Chinese five spices


  1. Melt the butter on low heat, in a heavy tatin tin that can go on an oven ring and also in the oven. Or in a frying pan.DSCF7173
  2. Add the maple syrup and stir in.DSCF7364
  3. Bring to a low simmer on low to medium heat, till it looks foamy and darkens a little.DSCF7371
  4. Stir in the lemon juice, Chinese five spices and tamarind paste and simmer on low-medium heat till it darkens even more.DSCF7179
  5. Add the apple slices to fill the tin and a few more (because they shrink) and carefully turn over with a spoon to cover them completely in the caramel.DSCF7180
  6. Cook on a low to medium heat for around 10 minutes until the apples have softened a little but not too much.DSCF7387
  7. Finally, take off the heat.  If using the same pan, arrange the apple slices artistically with the round side facing downwards (or flat if that’s easier).  If using a separate pie dish pour the caramel in then arrange the apple slices at the bottom.DSCF7396
  8. Roll out the pastry (between 1 and 2mm thick) into a circle about 1.5 cm bigger than your mould.
  9. The apples should be cooler now, so put the pastry circle over them and tuck in around the sides (this makes it easier to unmould).  Flatten a bit with your hands if necessary.DSCF7197
  10. Pierce with holes to let out steam.  Most people do it with 4 holes – I just get carried away!DSCF7200
  11. Put in the middle of the oven (place on a baking tray if it seems caramel will overflow) and bake 40 to 55 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the caramel has stopped bubbling.  If the pastry is not browning enough then raise the temperatures by about 10°C for the last 5 or 10 mins of baking.DSCF7209
  12. Once out of the oven leave to cool 10 minutes.
  13. Go around the edges with a rounded knife to loosen.
  14. Turn upside down on a cooling rack.  If some apples have stuck to the bottom take them out delicately with a spatula and position back onto the tart!  Try to scrape out and add the caramel too.  Don’t worry, it will still taste scrumptious! 🙂
    'rustic' apple tart tatin

    ‘rustic’ apple tart tatin

    I hope you’ll have a slice with me!  It’s delicious warm, but also great the next day kept at room temperature in tupperware.

    Have a slice of apple tarte tatin!

    Have a slice of apple tarte tatin!

And that sweet friends is my slightly oriental version of the famous Tarte Tatin, with thanks to the sisters in France at their Tatin Hotel.  They apparently never set out to make a ‘signature’ dessert and never even called it a ‘Tatin’ but they certainly contributed in a big way to the world of patisserie!

So I’m bringing this Chinese five spice and tamarind Tarte Tatin to the weekly Fiesta Friday, hosted by the lovely Angie@thenovicegardener and co-hosted this week by the equally delightful Julianna @Foodie On Board and Hilda @Along The Grapevine.  Lots of food for everyone!!!  Come along and try some!

And if you want to see loads of wonderful sweet and savoury Tartes Tatin made by the Daring Bakers (hee hee), then please visit the Daring Kitchen!  Actually, have you made a tarte tatin before or would you like to make one?  What kind?

Time to go now.  Have a lovely upside-down (in a nice way) weekend sweet reader with some great surprises that make you smile!!  See you soon! 🙂

Posted by

Baking on Sundays with my French mum was a lovely part of my childhood. Later I experimented with baking books or internet recipes and did the pâtisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Still trying out new recipes and inventing cakes with influences from all around the world, including some healthier ones. Yes, love cakes!!! Hope you'll love them too and have fun baking. :)

36 thoughts on “Apple tarte tatin with Chinese five spices and tamarind! A healthy recipe!”

  1. I have made several tartes tatins, but your flavourings are really intriguing. I’d love to try this. Also I’m so glad you used maple syrup, something I admit I have not done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be great if you try it!! I love the flavours but let me know what you think. And I’m not sure I could go back to sugar now I’ve tried it with maple syrup, which tastes so lovely – as you know! 🙂


    • Thanks Caroline! I’m new to tamarind but now very enthusiastic about using the paste in more stuff if you can give me any ideas!

      Apparently it’s not completely dissimilar to quince – tart, sour and sweet – which might reassure people who are peturbed! But yes, I was surprised at how amazingly well it all works together, and happy! 🙂


  2. Must say that is a very interesting take.. love the addition of tamarind. I am an Indian and we use a lot of Tamarind in our cooking too.. though mostly for chutneys. This is an absolutely new thing for me ! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the interesting comments Prachi!! Good to know about the chutneys, and I should try Tamarind in savoury dishes… It’s a new thing for me too – first heard about it at Christmas with Tamarind fruit cakes, which is now a thing in the UK maybe since the royal wedding fruitcake had Tamarind concentrate in it!!! 🙂


  3. Oh my… you’ve been at it again Lili… just lush is all I can say! I did make an apple tarte tatin just once before, after I had tried it at a friend’s place in England – now your flavors just sound so intriguing. Tamarind and Chinese Five Spice powder? WOW-WEEEEEEEE! Now to grab my measuring chart and figure out those measurements :)). I can only imagine how wonderful it had to taste. Happy FF!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Loretta!!! Happy you’re enthusiastic about the flavours! 🙂 I think you’re in luck with conversions – just need it for the white spelt flour 1 cup equals 102g? I saw some UK blogger saying buying weighing scales is a good way to go… This afternoon I struggled with a cups recipe!!! Is there a special cup I can buy?! 🙂
      Hope you can make the tart and get to enjoy it!!! 🙂 Happy FF to you too!!


  4. Oh and Lili, I use tamarind a lot in Indian cooking, so introducing it to baking, is definitely a first, and I’m anxious to try it in my baking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting Loretta and nice to know you’re into the Tamarind adventure too!! 🙂 … I’m going the other way around. Used it in baking and really wanting use it in cooking now! Will check out your savoury recipes! 🙂


  5. How incredibly creative! So many interesting flavours are going on–the maple syrup caramel sounds absolutely divine and a wonderful alternative from using refined sugar!
    I have to admit, I never really pay attention to what sort of apples I use (it’s what ever is in the back of the fridge, really) and so it’s interesting to hear about which apple you prefer. Next time I make something with apples I’ll consider more carefully, and try to pay attention to how the apple tastes as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much!!! Happy you like the flavours, and yes… I love maple syrup! 🙂 Let me know which apples you end up choosing! In case I can’t find any russetts and I need a plan B … 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Stephanie @ The Cozy Cook says:

    MMMMMMM this looks awesome and the illustrated instructions are the BEST!! You’re verrryy creative, I love it!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing- the entire post was fun to look through!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Stephanie for your lovely and kind comments!! I’m very happy you enjoyed the drawings and post! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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