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Sweet cheats: Faux tarte tatin

Valentina Rice

Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a sweet shortcut when you’re pressed for time.

t faux tarte tatin

t I’m all for authenticity, but sometimes there’s nothing quite like a shortcut when you’re pressed for time. One of my culinary heroes, Britain’s beloved Delia Smith, wrote a book called How To Cheat At Cooking which caused quite a stir, with half of England’s home cooks up in arms. I’m a firm believer in cheating, especially if it keeps you cooking rather than heating up microwave dinners.

t My favorite cheats are sweet cheats. We all lead busy lives and the idea of baking a pie after a long day’s work can seem like a step too far. Years ago, one of my best friends whipped up this “faux” tarte tatin in minutes, and had I not seen her do it I would never have believed it was so easy. It’s now my go-to recipe for a dinner party dessert, and one that I rarely have to leave the house to make; it has just four ingredients, all of which I usually have on hand. So when you find yourself stuck with a last-minute guest coming to dinner, or you have been asked to bring a dessert to a potluck dinner, I’d highly recommend giving this a try.

t The “faux” creme anglaise sauce that I serve alongside is the best cheat of all. It is melted vanilla ice cream! Could anything be simpler than that? I pour it over everything from brownies to mixed berries but it’s absolutely perfect with apple pie.

Faux tarte tatin



  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
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  • 4 tablespoons butter
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  • 2 Granny Smith apples
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  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (thawed)



  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
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  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar until you have a smooth liquid.
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  5. Peel and slice the apples (I cheated and used an apple corer and divider!)
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  7. Pour half the melted butter into a round cake pan (I used a 9-inch) and arrange the apple slices in a fan. Scatter what’s left over on top.
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  9. Place the sheet of pastry over the apples; you may need to roll it a little to get it to be big enough.
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  11. Trim the pastry to the edges of the tin.
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  13. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pastry looks perfectly browned.
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  15. Invert onto a plate and serve with melted vanilla ice cream or, as I like to call it, creme anglaise!

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