Feelin’ Fine French Pear Tart

I can’t explain why, but lately I just feel like celebrating—celebrating Spring, family, and my peaceful life. And I have chosen to show my gratitude the best way I know how: by baking.

I couldn’t wait to get home yesterday and make this French pear tart. It’s another Dorie masterpiece: elegant pear fans baked into a rich almond cream sitting atop a light, buttery crust. (Oh my goodness, I’m almost drooling over my own words.)

This may look complicated to make, but really it isn’t. I was pleasantly surprised at how uncomplicated it actually was to put everything together. The only adjustment I made to the recipe was to use a sweet pastry dough recipe from my Swiss TipTopf cookbook. The thing I love most about this dough is that I can do it by hand. Maybe it’s just me, but I love the feeling of cold butter and flour rubbing between my fingertips. For once, it’s actually a good thing to have cold hands (besides the whole “cold hands, warm heart” thing :P)—the butter doesn’t melt when I mix it into the flour.

Apart from the dough, I followed everything Dorie said to do. You know, it really does pay off to the follow directions and to measure exactly (and I was exact down to the gram). I don’t know why my pears are so brown. I’m not too upset about it because the taste more than made up for the slightly odd appearance. The golden crust is flaky and crisp, the pears are tender (but not mushy) and the almond cream—infused with sweet pear juice—is so incredibly smoooooth.

So will I be making this again? Oh, yes! What a way to celebrate all the good things in life!

Enjoy!

French Pear Tart (adapted from TipTopf and Dorie Greenspan’s recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours)

Makes one 26 cm springform tart

Sweet Tart Pastry (Muerbeteig)

200 g all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

100 g very cold unsalted butter, diced

2-3 tsp evaporated cane sugar

zest of 1/2 an organic lemon, grated

1 egg, at room temp. , whisked

2 tbsp cold water

Almond Cream

3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp.

150 g evaporated cane sugar

150 g ground almonds

1 large egg

1 tsp flour

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla extract

Tart

3 pears

METHOD

Sweet Tart Pastry

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add the butter and with your fingertips, gently rub flour and butter together until evenly combined.
  2. Mix in the sugar and grated lemon zest.
  3. Make a well in the dry mixture. Pour the egg and water into the well and with a fork, very quickly whisk the flour into the egg (working from the outside in). Once the dough starts forming, use your hands to gently pat it into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Or you can press the dough into the springform first—I put a plastic sandwich bag on my hand to do this, in order to avoid sticking and overhandling—and then chill.)
  4. While the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 428 F (220 C).
  5. Fit a piece of tin foil tightly against the dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes on the center rack. Once finished baking, carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed up, use the back of a spoon to gently push it back down.

Almond Cream

  1. Put the butter and sugar in the workbowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended.
  2. Add the flour and cornstarch, process, and then add the egg.  Process for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is homogeneous. Add the rum or vanilla and process just to blend.

If you prefer, you can make the cream in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a rubber spatula.  In either case, the ingredients are added in the same order.  Scrape the almond cream into a container and either use it immediately or refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours.

Assembly

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Have a lined baking sheet at the ready.
  2. If you are using fresh (unpoached) pears, peel them now.  If you are using poached or unpoached pears, cut them in half from blossom to stem and core them; rub the unpoached pears with lemon juice.  Whatever pears you have, make sure to pat them dry – really dry – so that their liquid won’t keep the almond cream from baking.
  3. Fill the baked crust with the almond cream, spreading it even with an offset metal icing spatula.
  4. Thinly slice each pear half crosswise, lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly and place it, wide-end toward the edge of the crust, over the almond cream.  The halves will form spokes.
  5. Put the crust on the lined baking sheet, slide the sheet into the oven and bake the tart 50 to 60 minutes, or until the almond cream puffs up around the pears and browns.  Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature before unmolding.
  6. Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar.  If you prefer, prepare a glaze by bringing about 1/4 cup apple jelly and1/2 teaspoon water to the boil.  Brush the glaze over the surface of the tart.

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  • By Blueberry Flan Tart « The Little Baker SF on October 31, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    […] blueberries? Oh, yes! As for the crust, though I liked it, it wasn’t as good as my favorite sweet tart dough recipe from […]

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