Who can resist the smooth, crumbly texture of a rich fruit tart!
It is autumn in Australia and I see lots of pears in the markets. Pears are so versatile you can poach them, roast them, juice them, or just eat them as they are.
I still do not know which one is my favourite pear variety, but for this recipe I used red blushed baby Corellas. They are slightly firm, dense, and sweet. They also cook well when making a French Tart.
This recipe is the basic recipe to make many tarts using seasonal fruits. The pastry and Almond cream are the basic recipes from The Cordon Blue Culinary school. Both recipes are just perfect, they will never let you down. Professional cooking at its best!
Ingredients for the Sweet Pastry
- 250 grams flour
- 150 grams butter (cold and cut into small cubes)
- 1 egg
- 100 grams icing sugar
- vanilla seeds
- a pinch of salt
- 1 egg for egg wash
Method for the Pastry
- Sieve the flour. Combine the flour, butter (the butter must be cold), sugar, vanilla seeds and salt in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg and process until the dough just comes together.
- Turn the pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until just smooth. Shape into a disk. Wrap in Cling Film and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
- Turn the oven to 160 C.
- Line a pastry case with baking paper.
- Now, we are going to blind-bake the pastry to seal the surface of the case and prevent the pastry becoming soggy when moist fillings are added.
- Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3 mm-thick disc. Line a round 23cm tart tin with removable base with pastry and trim any excess. Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
- Using a fork prick the base and sides of the pastry or cover the pastry base with baking paper and fill it with pastry weights, rice, or dried beans.
- Place on a baking tray and baked in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove the paper and pastry weights and brush the pastry with an egg wash (egg yolk and water). Return the pastry to the oven a bake for a further 2 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
Method for the French Almond Cream or Frangipane
- 120 grams of butter (it has to be soft)
- 120 grams sugar
- 2 eggs
- 120 grams almond powder
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- Add all the ingredients to a bowl of a mixer. Beat them on medium and then high speed until fluffy and well combined.
- Fill a piping bag with a nozzle with the mixture.
Method to put the tart together
- Fill the pastry base with the almond cream in a spiral, then with a spatula spread the mixture evenly.
- Slice the pears in half and then use your hands to flatten them and fan each half.
- Arrange the pears around the tart.
- Bake the tart until the filling is firm to the touch in the centre and slightly golden around the edges.
- Let the tart cool down and then transfer the tart to a wire rack.
- In the meantime melt some apricot Jam in a small pan, add water if needed.
- Using a pastry brush, gently brush the top of the tart with a thin coating of apricot jam.
- Using a torch gently burn the surface of the pears.
- Finally, slide the tart onto a serving dish.
- This pastry has a high portion of fat, and this is why the butter has to be CHILLED before using it.
- Because the pastry (Pate Sucree) has a high portion of sugar, it is a much softer pastry and needs to be chilled for 1 hour before baking it.
- I used icing sugar but caster sugar (50 grams) may be used instead.
- This sweet pastry is used mainly for making flan and tartlet cases, as it holds its shape well during cooking.