Apple Tarte Tatin for the New Year

Tarte tatin, courtesy of Joe Pastry

When it comes to local and seasonal, the Bible was way ahead of the curve. Every fall Jews around the world mark the New Year ,and specifically its "new fruit," by eating seasonal produce such as pomegranates or apples, the latter often dipped in honey to symbolize the wish for further sweetness in the coming months. Jews also thank the tree that bore this fruit with a customary Hebrew blessing -- and then they chow down.

To reinforce this honoring of the change of seasons and the beginning of the harvest, apple cake is customarily served -- and in Jewish tradition, "customarily" means "for centuries" -- to finish off the holiday meal. But why not change things up a little? This apple tarte tatin, adapted from Epicurious, both celebrates the season and adds a certain, well, je ne sais quoi to your holiday table. The commercial puff pastry dough this recipe calls for removes an extra step from the process without sacrificing taste or glamor. (The Jewish tradition has enough sacrificing, mais non?)

Apple Tarte Tatin
1 frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4 -ounce package)
¼ cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
7-9 apples (Gala, Granny Smith, or your local variety), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll pastry sheet into a 101/2-inch square on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin. Brush off excess flour and cut out a 10-inch round with a sharp knife, using a plate as a guide. Transfer round to a baking sheet and chill.

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Spread butter thickly on bottom and side of skillet and pour sugar evenly over bottom. Arrange as many apples as will fit vertically on sugar, packing them tightly in concentric circles. Apples will stick up above rim of skillet.

Cook apples over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until juices are deep golden and bubbling, 18 to 25 minutes. (Don't worry if juices color unevenly.)

Put skillet in middle of oven over a piece of foil to catch any drips. Bake 20 minutes (apples will settle slightly), then remove from oven and lay pastry round over apples. Bake tart until pastry is browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

Using baking mitts, transfer skillet to a rack and cool at least 10 minutes.

Just before serving, invert a platter with lip over skillet and, using potholders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto platter. Replace any apples that stick to skillet. Brush any excess caramel from skillet over apples. Shake skillet gently to loosen tart before inverting to serve within thirty minutes, or let it stand, uncovered in the pan, for up to 5 hours, then reheat over moderately low heat 1 to 2 minutes to loosen caramel.

Serve with vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.

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