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. Pingback: Apple tarte tatin with Chinese five spices and tamarind! A healthy recipe! | homethoughtsfromabroad626

  2. Claudette says:

    The recipe has been tested and approved…even though it was with Pink Lady apples and not Reinettes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks mum! Great to know you made it and it came out alright! 🙂 Also interesting to hear about the Pink Lady apples! How were they? xxx


  3. What an original idea, Lili. It looks delicious. My mouth became water while I was reading and watching you photos. I would love to taste it. Jump down waterfalls in apron? Hahah That’s a funny wisecrack.
    Kind greetings,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Marianne for your lovely comments!! I’d love for you to taste the tarte tatin too.. well, if you can’t make it I’ll send you the virtual cake. And I’m very happy you’re enjoying the jokes! 🙂 Have a lovely rest of the week! 🙂 Lili

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great Arlene! Thank you, I’m so pleased you like the flavours (they were like a wonderful discovery for me!) – let me know how it goes! 🙂


  4. Pingback: Week 35 of cakes, some apple recipes and ‘wild’ boars in the mountains! | lili's cakes

Leave a Reply to Arl's World Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.