Sunday, 9 March 2008

Pear & Almond Tart

This recipe was inspired by a bakery in Rome called Il Fornaio. More details can be found on my Roman food notes page. The recipe is cobbled together from various ones I found on the net and is vouched for with appreciative murmers.


Serves 8

For the pastry:

350g plain flour
175g salted butter
100g icing sugar
3 egg yolks

For the topping:

300g unsalted butter at room temperature
300g caster sugar
300g blanched almonds
3 eggs
5 ripe comice pears - peeled and halved


To make the sweet pastry, combine the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor. Once well mixed (you're aiming for breadcrumbs), beat in the egg yolks one by one. I do this in a food processor and finish it off in a mixing bowl. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

For the topping, finely chop the almonds in a food processor. Don't be tempted to substitute ground almonds at this point. They wont have the bite and the texture of the filling will suffer. Mix the almonds with the caster sugar and eggs until light and creamy.

Lightly grease a 28cm flan tin with a removable base. Take the chilled pastry from the fridge and grate it into a pile in the middle of the flan dish. Using your fingers, press the grated pastry into the edges and base of the flan tin until there is an even layer all around - that's right, no rolling. Once the pastry is even, prick the base a couple of times and blind bake it for 20 mins or until it just starts to brown. I add ceramic baking beads to stop the base lifting.

Assemble the tart by evenly-spacing the halved pears on the pastry base. Spoon the almond mixture around the pears (and fill in any cored cavities). If there is too much mixture it will overflow. This isn't a problem but bear in mind that you'll need to put it on a baking tray or your oven will become a butter bath.

Reduce the oven temperature to 160 and return the tart to the oven for 40mins or until it is browned all over.

Serve with double cream or crème fraîche. Its great hot or cold.