Lynda Balslev: A perfectly imperfect tarte

When it comes to a dessert, a baked upside-down anything is a winner — even when it's a mistake. A tarte Tatin is a classic French upside-down fruit tart, traditionally made with apples.

When it comes to a dessert, a baked upside-down anything is a winner — even when it’s a mistake. A tarte Tatin is a classic French upside-down fruit tart, traditionally made with apples. It’s named for the Tatin sisters, who created the upside-down caramelized tart, purportedly by accident, in Lamotte-Beuvron, France, in 1898. Legend has it that one of the sisters inadvertently omitted the pastry in an apple tart. The dessert was nimbly salvaged by placing the crust on top of the fruit, in a wonderful example of kitchen improvisation, which gave rise to a timeless dessert. (Wouldn’t it be nice if all kitchen disasters yielded such successful and delicious results?)

While tarte Tatins are often prepared with apples, they are also a lovely way to showcase other seasonal fruit, such as pears. Best of all, they are beautifully imperfect. Once you get the hang of making the caramel and performing the final inversion of the tart onto a plate, a tarte Tatin is unfussy and pleasing, and, in this case, irregular and uneven — and more charming for that.