Pear and Frangipane Tarts (Tarte Bourdaloue aux Poires)
You would think we would be bored of baking tarts by now. On the contrary, I think we’d never stop popping them into the oven. There is a quiet sense of satisfaction knowing that slowly but surely, improvement could be tasted after every bake. Kudos to Ned who persevered despite it all and once again, delivered a tray filled with petite tartlets of crisp golden brown pastry, luscious fruits and delightful almond filling.
Frangipane is a filling made from almonds and acts like a pastry cream. Back then when I was clueless about baking and culinary terms, I always thought frangipane was made from frangipani flowers. That is, you have to admit, really quite an interesting flavour should it be true. (Technically, you can actually consume frangipani or plumeria flowers in salads, teas and even candy. My brain is raging with ideas now.) Now that I have grown a little wiser, visits to the local pâtisserie won’t have me leaving red-faced with my silly questions.
The almond acts like a base and pushes the honeyed sweetness of the pears in every bite. What I love is the burst of juice from the fruit against the dense frangipane filling – a mouthful of pure indulgence! For which, I am not ashamed to say that I ate two in one sitting.
Off to the gym…
Pear and Frangipane Tarts (Tarte Bourdaloue
By Richard Bertinet, Pastry
Makes 24 x 8 cm tarts
For the Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
350g plain flour
pinch of sea salt
125g unsalted butter, cold and flattened out in between two sheets of greaseproof paper to 1cm thick
125g caster sugar
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
For the Almond Cream
250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
2 tablespoon Poire William liqueur, or rum
For the Poached Pears
1 litre of water
12 small ripe pears, Williams or Conference
200g clear apricot jam, for the glaze (optional)
For the sweet shortcrust pastry, stir the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the flattened butter, cold straight from the fridge into the flour and rub in the mixture, until mixture looks like crumbs.
Add the sugar and toss well in the mixture. Then add the eggs and egg yolk to the mixture and gently mix with a dough scraper, until the dough comes together in a ball.
Lightly flour a work surface, tip the pastry ball out onto it and knead until you have a smooth soft dough. Shape the pastry into a square, to make it easier to roll out later on.
Place the dough in the fridge to chill for an hour minimum, preferably overnight, to rest.
To make the almond cream, beat the butter until very soft. Add the sugar and ground almonds and mix some more. Now mix in the flour, then the eggs, and finally the alcohol. Transfer to a small bowl and put in the fridge for 15 minutes.
To poach the pears, bring the sugar and 1 litre of water to the boil in a pan, then simmer until you have a colourless syrup.
Peel the pears, keeping them whole and put them into the syrup. Simmer gently for 20 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to cool.
Lightly grease 24 loose-bottomed tins, 8cm in diameter and 2cm deep. (If you don’t have this many tins, you can bake in batches and freeze them until needed. Then you can defrost them and warm them through, reading for glazing.)
Remove the pastry from the fridge and lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the pastry to 2-3mm thick with a rolling pin and line the tins. Use the rolling pin to roll on top of the tin to cut off the excess pastry dough. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Halve the pears if small, or cut them into quarters if large. Place them rounded side up on the chopping board, then make several width way cuts that go about two-thirds of the way through the flesh. Press down gently and the pear will fan out a little.
Remove the tins from the fridge and using a piping bag or a spoon, half fill each pastry case with the almond cream. Arrange a halved pear on top.
Place on baking trays and bake for about 25 minutes, until the almond cream is golden. Leave in the tins for about 15 minutes, then lift out and cool on a rack.
If making the apricot glaze, put the jam in a pan with a tablespoon or two of water and bring to just under a simmer – don’t let it boil or the jam will become too gooey to spread properly. Using a pastry brush, lightly glaze the top of the tarts.