I was at the grocers the other day and being unable to resist a bargain, I didn’t even think twice about buying way more pears than I could possibly ever want or need simply because they were bagged and marked up at 49p. The pears had gone a little past their best, hence the price, but this probably works out for the best in this recipe as the smooth poached fruit tastes lovely with the crispy pastry and frangipane filling.
I lay whole pear halves on top of the almond cream but you could slice them and arrange into a nice frilled pattern for a more artistic finish. I like the big mouthfuls of pear you get this way though.
For the poached pears:
- 4 ripe pears
- About 300ml water
- 1 vanilla pod, split or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 100g caster sugar
For the sweet pastry:
- 80g unsalted butter or margarine
- 130g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- Pinch of salt
- 30g icing sugar
- 1 egg yolk (save the white)
- 1 tbsp water
For the almond cream:
- 125g softened unsalted butter or margarine
- 125g caster sugar
- 125g ground almonds
- 3 medium eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp rum
- Apricot jam warmed with a little water
- Peel the pears, cut them in half and remove the cores. Pour about 300ml of water into a large pan and add the vanilla pod, cinnamon stick and sugar. Bring to the boil, then add the pears and simmer them for 20 minutes. Leave to cool. You can do all this the day before making the tart if you like.
- To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter/margarine and sugar and gently work together with your fingertips. Add the egg yolk and gradually draw in the flour, adding drops of water as you go. When all the flour has been incorporated, shape the dough into a ball, but do not overwork it. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
- For the almond cream, beat the butter/margarine and sugar until pale and beat in the ground almonds. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and finally the rum.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3mm and use it to line a 24cm deep flan tin. Prick the pastry base with a fork, line it with grease proof paper and fill with baking beans, then bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, brush the base with the reserved egg white and put the pastry back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base has cooked but not taken on too much colour. Leave the oven on.
- Spoon the almond cream into the tart base, then arrange the sliced, drained pears on top, with the pointed ends towards the centre. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 180C if browning too quickly. When the tart is cooked, warm some apricot jam with a little water and brush it over the surface and serve.
This tart serves 8. It is even nicely portioned out with pear markers for you. Served warm or cold, it is yummy with a big scoop of ice cream.
Adapted from a recipe I found in the metro, if you like marzipan, frangipane, pears and general yumminess then please try this. Let me know how you get on. Happy baking!