This is basically a Tarte Tatin without the pastry crust. Peeling is optional–the long baking time renders the peels quite soft. Up to you. If using pears, make sure they’re not too ripe or they’ll disintegrate (they’ll still be tasty).
6 T unsalted butter
1-1/4 c sugar, or to taste
1 T water
4 – 5 lbs apples or pears, (peeled), cored and sliced
1/2 t ground cinnamon, optional
1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Combine 4 T of the butter with 1 cup of the sugar and the 1 T of water in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet and turn the heat to medium. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally (don’t stir), until the sugar melts into the butter and the mixture bubbles. Turn off the heat and add the apples in layers; about halfway through, dot with some, but not all, of the remaining butter and sugar. Use the rest of the butter and sugar on top of the last layer, along with the cinnamon, if you like. Put in the oven.
2. Bake, undisturbed, until the apples give up their liquid and it evaporates and the sides of the pan are dark brown and sticky looking. This can take from 45 minutes to 1-1/4 hours, depending on the water content of your apples. Remove and let cool. Serve straight from the pan or invert onto a plate. Ice cream!!!