Friday, September 11, 2015

Pear & Almond Tart

Pear and almond tart
Pear & almond tart and freshly-cut anthuriums from my pots
One of the joys of life is baking with almond cream. Whether it's a hand pie or a tart, with or without the accompaniment of fruit, the taste makes you sit back and savour the moment(s). Images of pear tarts on the internet  have been whispering to me...Go, get those pears and bake!! I dragged myself out of the house and looked around for pears and did come across the ones that I thought would turn out good. I don't know the names and the fruits certainly do not come with name tags. You have to go by intuition...
I did some prepping yesterday. Ground the almonds, ground the sugar, and made the shortcrust pastry. There wasn't much to be done today but poach the pears and bake the tart. 

The pastry:
100 grams butter, cut into cubes and chilled
200 grams all-purpose flour, sieved
2 tbs fine sugar
1 egg + extra for the egg wash
Keep a small bowl of cold water to sprinkle on the dough
Transfer the flour into a large bowl and add the butter.
Add the sugar and mix with your finger tips till it becomes crumbly.
Break the egg and add to the mixture. Sprinkle some cold water (if needed) at this point.
Bring the mixture together. Wrap in clingfilm, and chill for at least 40 minutes.
I prefer to rest my pastry overnight so I usually make it a day ahead. 
The almond filling:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs butter at room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
1 tbs all-purpose flour
2 small eggs
Mix everything in the blender and chill till ready to be used.
Pear & almond tart

The pears: 
(I got the smaller-sized ones)
4 pears
4 cups of water, enough for the fruit to be submerged in
1 stick of cinnamon
6-7 cloves
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
A quarter tsp grated ginger
Heat the water in a pan and add the aromatics and the sugar.
Peel and halve the pears. Core them.
Add them to the water and poach them for about 18-20 minutes. Check using a knife. If it meets no resistance the pears are ready.
Cool in the poaching liquid.
After the pears cool down, place each one on a board and slice horizontally.
The cut must not go all the way through and each pear-half must remain intact.
With your fingers, fan out the cuts. Then use a paper towel to absorb the liquid from the poaching. Dry out gently using more paper towels if necessary. This is important as you don't want the liquid turning your filling soggy, particularly in the area surrounding the pears.
Pear & almond tart

Baking blind:
Meanwhile, take the pastry out of the fridge.
Lightly grease a loose-bottomed tart tin.
Roll out the pastry a little bigger than the tin.
With the help of the rolling pin, place it on the tart tin.
Press the edges and again with the rolling pin, discard the overhanging dough.
Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Take the pastry out of the fridge.
Butter one side of a piece of foil and place the buttered side down.
Fill with baking beans and bake for about 12 minutes.
Remove the beans, apply egg-wash and bake again till the pastry is golden brown. This will take another 10 minutes or so.
Remove and cool.
Pear & almond tart

The final process:
Add the almond filling to the cooled pastry shell. With the help of a spatula, place the pears on top by forming a pattern. I placed one in the middle also. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 40 minutes or till it's evenly browned. Remove and cool. A little sugar dusting might not be a bad thing. Cut into wedges and serve.
Not all the pastry dough was used. I prefer to make a little extra.

There's a bit of the filling left and that's likely to go into hand pies like the ones here:
http://blendingflavours.blogspot.in/2014/11/hand-pies-with-ambrosial-fillings.html
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