This Ruth Reichl pear tarte tatin, from the Gourmet cookbook, has become a staple recipe in my kitchen. The first time I made it was about three years ago, for a dinner party out at my then-new friends Lora and Joe's house in the Carolina woods. Out on the porch that night in the chilly fall air, I met a group of young old-time musicians, Anna, Brett, John & Sabra, then the Blind Tiger String Band, who were all so fun and cool and talented. I hoped that I would become good friends with everyone at the table.
Three years later, that's happened, and I see Brett at shows when he passes through town and at our friends' weddings and showers and parties, Anna and I dance at square dances and play ping-pong at old-time festivals, and Sabra and I make plans and chat regularly and sing songs around the campfire. Lora and Joe are now old friends and that upside-down pear tart is an old standby. I've since made it for Pi(e) Day and Christmas, Thanksgiving potlucks, and other dinner parties with friends.
I'm sharing the recipe again, as these photos by Stephanie Breijo, of the version I made for Brightest Young Things' Urban Picnic Guide, are the best ones I've seen yet. We're also decidedly in pear season, and maybe this fall you can also share this simple tart with friends old and soon-to-be.
Pear Tarte Tatin
Adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook
4 large firm yet ripe Bosc pears
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust, halved and using all-purpose flour
1. Peel, halve, and core pears (with a melon-baller or grapefruit spoon). Heat butter in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then stir in sugar (sugar will not be dissolved). Arrange pears, cut sides up, in skillet with wide parts facing out. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and cook without stirring, until sugar turns a deep golden caramel. (about 15- 25 minutes, depending on pears, skillets, and stove.) Cool pears completely in skillet.
2. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and trim to a 9 1/2- to 10 1/2-inch round. Arrange pastry over the caramelized pears, tucking the edge around the pears inside the rim of skillet. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
4. Invert a rimmed serving plate (slightly larger than skillet) over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto plate. Serve tart warm with vanilla whipped cream.