Ponzu-Balsamic Apple Tarte Tatin
In this new recipe corner, chefs with various backgrounds test out Japanese seasonings/ingredients and create original recipes from fresh perspectives. Each month one chef tries one featured seasoning or ingredient. This month, Chef Ronna Welsh of Purple Kale Kitchenworks explores “ponzu”, soy sauce- and dashi-base sauce with citrus juice.
“Ponzu and balsamic, together with sugar come as close as any two ingredients to tasting like molasses. Paired with apples and a savory, salty crust, they make the classic tarte tatin something simple but striking.”
—Chef Ronna Welsh
(Ingredients: 1 whole pie)
• 5 tbsp sugar
• 2 tbsp water
• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 cup ponzu
• 1 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice
• Pinch ground cinnamon
• Pinch ground allspice
• ¼ cup butter
• 2 lb sweet, crisp apples, like Braeburn or Honeycrisp (about 3 large), peeled, cored, and cut into wedges, about ¼-inch thick
• 1 recipe of Cheddar Cheese Pie Dough, or store bought dough (see recipe, below)
Ponzu is used as a dressing and dipping sauce in Japan.
Preheat oven to 400 °F.
Combine sugar and water in a small pot and heat over medium-high. Bring to a boil, stirring once to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook until the bubbles turn to uneven sizes and the mixture begins to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. When the sugar turns to a light caramel color, add the balsamic vinegar, ponzu, orange or lemon juice, cinnamon, and allspice.
Increase heat to high and bring to a rapid boil, stirring to melt any hardened pieces of sugar in the pot. Cook until the syrup bubbles wildly, like an angry cauldron, and the caramel has darkened and can thickly coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter all at once. Stir to melt, then immediately pour into a 9-inch pie pan to evenly coat the bottom, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Roll out the dough, on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin, into a round sheet about 3/8-inch-thick and 10-inches in diameter.
Arrange the apple slices on the caramel by overlapping them in a circular fan beginning with the outer edges and working toward the center. They should be packed together tightly. Continue to layer the apples to completely fill the pan. If you have some slices leftover, pack the slices tighter to make space.
Drape the rolled dough on top of the pie pan, pushing down gently around the edge of the apples. Trim the excess dough that hangs over the pie pan. Score the dough with five vents toward the center with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape during baking. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake on the lower rack of the oven. Bake until the liquid bubbles up through the vents and the edges of the crust are a deep brown, about 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer pan to a wire rack. Rest for 30 minutes to allow juices to thicken. Invert a sturdy plate on top of the tart. Place one hand on the bottom of the plate and the other on the bottom of the pie pan. Flip over swiftly. If any pieces of apple stick to the pan, loosen them gently with a spoon and put them back into place.
Cheddar Cheese Pie Dough
• 1 ¼ cups flour
• ½ tsp salt
• 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
• 3 oz white aged cheddar cheese
• Up to 4 tbsp ice cold water
In a medium bowl, briefly toss together the flour, salt, butter and cheese. Transfer to the food processor. Pulse, for two seconds at a time, until the butter pieces are the size of a pea. Lift the lid off the processor and drizzle a tablespoon of cold water over the flour/butter mixture. Place lid on and pulse again for two more seconds. Repeat until the crumbly mixture sticks together when you pinch it between your thumb and forefinger. Do not overmix or add more water than necessary.
Turn bowl of dough mixture onto a clean countertop. Quickly gather all scattered pieces of dough together into a single disc, about 1-inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To roll, lightly flour a countertop and rolling pin. Roll dough from the center toward the edge, turning a quarter-turn after each roll. Add flour to the table to prevent the dough from sticking only as needed. Refrigerate, if not using immediately.
The owner and chef of Purple Kale Kitchenworks. Ronna has cooked professionally for over seventeen years, alternately as executive chef, pastry chef, and consulting chef in a host of fine, quirky, greenmarket-driven New York City restaurants, such as Savoy and Rose Water, as well as in restaurants, pastry shops, on farms, and in homes in the south of France, the Spanish Pyrenees, the Greek island of Lesvos, and a little town in Sicily. She has written articles and developed recipes for various magazines. She teaches from her Brooklyn culinary studio. www.purplekale.com