Dorie Greenspan's pear tart recipe. The recipe is actually for one tart but I always have some crust leftover that I eventually throw away. This happens every time I make pies and tarts so I doubled the filling instead so that I could make two pear tarts.
This pear frangipane tart consists of a moderately sweet crust (pâte sablée), an almond filling (frangipane) and poached pears. I prepare the tart crust and I blanch the almonds always a day ahead and would advise others to do so as well. In any case, the crust has to rest for minimum one hour in the fridge and the blanched almonds have to dry. I know some people shy away from making the pie crust themselves because they are under the impression that it is difficult to make a crust from scratch but trust me, making a pie crust is so much easier than making a pizza dough. I prefer working the crust/dough with my hands (and a fork) and even so it doesn't take me more than 15-20 minutes.
Now, I don't want to bore you with my sob stories but last week, I went on a job interview with high hopes. I spent a few days looking up everything that needs to be checked before an interview such as interview questions and potential answers, company information & figures, tips etc. Just about everything. But the interview did not last long and after the interview, I seriously felt crap. I spent a lot of time preparing for it and know that I could have done better. Since it did not go well, I didn't expect them to even call me to inform me that I'm rejected. But they did call, but not to say that I had been rejected, but to say that I had been selected. I could not believe my ears! And today was my first day at this new workplace. To celebrate the occasion I have made this lovely, delectable French pear tart that feels a bit like a luxury treat. The last couple of days have been very hectic and exhausting and I was only take a few pictures. I will try to upload more later.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered/icing sugar
113 g (1 stick) unsalted cold butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 small egg
Almond filling (frangipane):
125 g unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup ground almonds
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla sugar
5-6 canned pear halves
3 ripe but firm pears
3 cups water
3/4 cup granulated sugar (adjust)
1 tbs lemon juice (or juice from 1 lemon)
1 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
Reduced syrup from the poached pears
Syrup from canned pears
Make the crust first. In a large bowl, sieve and mix the flour, icing sugar with salt. Slice cold butter (5-6 pieces) and cut it into the dry ingredients with a fork or use your hands. Make sure that all the flour is mixed with the butter and that there are no large chunks of butter in there. The flour should look a little grainy now. Make a hole in the middle to add the egg. Add the egg and use a fork to mix together the ingredients until it all looks like it is about to come together. Then use your hand to knead and pat together the crust. Flatten the dough into a disc (about 5 inches) with your hands. Wrap it up properly in a plastic sheet and refrigerate for minimum 1 hour. Alternatively, you could use a store-bought tart/pie crust.
Meanwhile peel and poach the pears. Peel the pears, cut them in halves, core the pears and cut the stem that grows all the way into the seeds as well. In a large cooking pot, add water, sugar, star anise, cinnamon quill and the lemon juice and bring it to a boil. Place the pears in the syrup (I place the curvecous side down). Cook or simmer until the pears reach your desired level of softness. I prefer them really soft and cook for about 30 minutes. Take them out and wipe them with a towel and slice the pears thinly.
You can either buy blanched almonds or blanch them yourself to prepare the almond filling called frangipane. To blanch the almonds, boil some water at high flame. Place the almonds in a bowl, pour the hot water over the almonds and allow to soak for 10-15 minutes. Keep the almonds in the water because it's difficult to blanch the skin when they become dry. It's also better to do this the night before you're going to bake the tart. Because the almonds have to dry. Place the almonds in a dry towel, covered overnight for them to dry.
Slice or roughly chop the almonds before grinding because it will be difficult to grind them coarsely if they are whole. Grind the almonds together with the flour. Put the ground almonds aside. Beat softened butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat in between each addition. Lastly add the ground almonds and the vanilla extract/sugar and mix with a spoon. Place the filling in the fridge covered until needed.
Roll out the crust on a well floured, preferably cold surface with a floured kitchen roller (this is very important, otherwise the dough will break and get sticky easily). Carefully lift the tart bottom with the roller and place it over the pie plate. Cut it neatly and press the crust carefully so that it is steady. The tart crust has a tendency to "shrink" in the oven, so don't cut the edges too short. Stick the pie bottom with a fork or place a baking paper over the tart crust and fill it with beans to help the tart keep its shape. Put the tart in a preheated oven and bake at 150 C (around 300 F) for about 15-20 minutes, in the bottom third of the oven.
Take the crust out of the oven. Let it cool for a while. Spoon in the almond filling and level it out with a spoon or knife. Insert a large knife under the pears and lift them and place them in the almond filling or decorate them as you please. Bake the tart in the lower parts of a preheated oven for about 45-55 minutes at 150-160 C (around 300-320 F). Let the tart cool before serving. Before serving, you could brush the pears and the tart with some of the syrup from the poached. Alternatively, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of the tart.