Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pear frangipane tart

I have made this pear tart twice before in the past and both times with canned pears. Since pears are in season now (well, at least here), I decided to make the poached pears from scratch this time. It went well, if I may say so myself. I never get a chance to photograph this tart properly when I make this, simply because this tart is so delicious and once it is out of the oven I start to dig in immediately. However this time, I made two pear frangipane tarts, to make sure that I would have something to click. The recipe is modified from 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.
Crust (pâte sablée):
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
2 eggs
3/4 cup ground almonds
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla sugar

Poached pears:
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.


Kai ruchi said...

Pear frangipane tart looks absolutely fantastic! Very well described!

MyFudo™ said...

Very flavorful and perfect blend of ingredients...Can't wait to try!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

This is beautiful and looks absolutely delicious. Something I'd love to try baking and I'll finish most of it on my own... It's totally my kind of dessert - it's fruits, not so sweet, and crunchy texture outside and buttery dough. YUM!

Kanan said...

Pear frangipane tart looks so delicious. I love the first picture

Amy's piece of cake said...

Denna ser ljuvligt god ut Rathai! Wow, så himla duktig du är!

Sv: Så kul att du bor i Sverige :) Jag antar att du är från Indien ursprungligen (precis som mig?)


Deeps @ Naughty Curry said...

hey congrats!! thats great news i hope ur liking the new job.. perfect way to celbrate the tarts look lovely!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

That top photo is stunning...and making me wish I had a slice of this yummy tart for breakfast :) I LOVE pear desserts...and this one is perfect!

easyfoodsmith said...

This looks like serious hard work! The tart looks perfect and I love everything about it- crust, filling and glaze. Yummy indeed!

Rathai's recipe said...

Thank you ladies for your kind words.

Deeps: I was a little nervous at first but I have very friendly and encouraging collegeaus, just like you guys. :)

Easyfoodsmith: I always divide the labour over two days. Yes, it's tough to have to wait but the dividend is surely worth the wait. :)

Ramya said...

wow..the tarts look super cute and nice clicks..thanks for linking said...

wow...u done this perfectly. n the pics r very clean n cool...

Amy's piece of cake said...

Trevligt! Jag är från delstaten Gujarat :)

Rathai's recipe said...

Thank you everyone for visiting and leaving your comments. I always appreciate your opinions. :)

Sobha Shyam said...

The tart looks so yum :) Please check out the Round Up of Just 4 Fun award is waiting for you :)

Mahi said...

Donno how did I miss this post Ratahi! Was thinking why no updates in your blog, suddenly came in to check! :)

So,how is your new office? got settled? Hope you are enjoying the work..Good luck! :)

Tart looks yum..tempting clicks!

FYI,I have not tasted any pie/tart so far! ;)))))))

Jayanthy Kumaran said...

ohhh...woow...this is just gorgeous..
Tasty Appetite

Raks said...

Nice recipe. New to me and sounds really good. Lovely photography!

Rathai's recipe said...

Sobha: Thank you very much for the award, Sobha. I'm really happy and humbled. :)

Mahi: I'm doing fine and thanks for your best wishes and compliment, Mahi. :)

Jay: Nice to see you back Jay and thank you. :)

Raks: Thanks for visiting my space and for your sweet comment. :)

Anisha said...

Congratulations on your new job...These tarts look tempting. I can understand about not being able to post a recipe coz we end up eating it before taking pics. I do it all the time... :)

Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick said...

I'd like to invite you to join me at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

I hope to see you there!
Kathy Shea Mormino
The Chicken Chick

Market Day Canelé said...

Nice, looks delicious.