Tarte Tatin

(adapted from the Confrerie des Iichonneux de Tarte Tatin)

New York Times, 22 November 2000.

8 tablespoons butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

6 medium Gala or Golden Delicious applies, peeled, cored and cut into quarters

1 thin (l/8 inch) sheet puff pastry, cut into a circle 12 inches in diameter.

Spread butter evenly in a l0 inch tarte Tatin mold or heavy 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet.

Spread sugar as evenly as possible on sides and bottom of pan.  Beginning at edge of pan, arrange apples peeled side down in concentric circles, fitting apples closely together.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pan over high heat and cook without stirring until sugar caramelizes and turns dark golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and press gently on the apples with a wooden spoon to help fill any spaces between them.  Cover the apples with puff pastry, overlapping the rim of the pan.  Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Remove tart from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Cover pan with a large plate and quickly invert tart.  Remove pan.  Serve hot or warm.

Notes:  One chef peels his apples the night before so they dry out a bit.  This  avoids too much liquid in the pan which can make the apples  mushy and the crust soggy.