I was pretty excited, as I am sure the rest of the Tuesday with Dorie bakers were when they found out that Dorie would be our lovely hostess for this week’s challenge. Dorie, is the queen of baking, in my humble opinion. I was equally as excited when I found out that Dorie picked the French Pear Tart. I have been dying to make this Pear Tart all season, and have not had a chance. It would be the most impressive dessert to bring to a dinner party that we had to go to on Sunday.
The recipe calls for a simple tart crust filled with an almond pastry cream and then topped with pears – simple. The tart dough is a classic French Sable otherwise known as a shortbread dough. It is very simple to make especially if you use the food processor as I do. As well you do not have to roll out this dough but rather mold it into your tart pan. I did freeze it for a couple of hours before baking which caused it not to bubble or rise during baking.
The recipe called for the option of using canned pears, which evidently most pastry shops do, or we could poach our own. I knew I had to poach my own and I knew that I had to use the cute little Seckel Pears I had previously seen at Bi-Rite market. I wanted to add a little something extra so I threw some Cardamon pods in with the pears when they were simmering. Poaching was so much easier then I thought it would be and I can only imagine all the creative things one can do with flavorings as well as color.
The pastry cream called for a bit of rum and I used a spiced Jamaican rum hoping it would compliment the Cardamon. When putting the tart together I decided to leave the pears whole since they were so cute and I wanted everyone to enjoy the dynamic look I was hoping for.
The tart finished up nicely. The crust was a bit heavy (per my food critic Lenny) but otherwise, the flavor combination and the freshly poached pears were heavenly. I really enjoyed making this tart, as it was very easy, incredibly flavorful and the presentation will WOW your guests!
Thank you, Dorie, for a wonderful challenge.
Recipe: French Pear Tart
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 medium-size firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled (each about 7 ounces)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
Powdered sugar (optional)
Bring 4 cups water, sugar, and lemon juice to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Blend powdered sugar, almonds, and salt in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and blend until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Mix in egg yolk. Add flour. Using on/off turns, blend until dough comes together in clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
For almond filling:
Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in 7 tablespoons sugar, then butter, blending until smooth. Mix in egg. Transfer filling to a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into a 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom (I used a rectangle shaped pan); peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with a fork. Freeze crust 10 minutes.
Line crust with buttered foil, buttered side down, then fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake crust until sides are golden and the bottom is set, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 10 minutes longer. Cool crust in pan on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
Spread almond filling evenly in crust. Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide a spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of wheel with narrow ends in center.
Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into the center of filling comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges; sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.