Pear season is at its peak and it is all too often that I hear people telling me that they are unsure of what to do with pears. The first thing that comes to my mind is to poach them in a spice syrup and add them to a porridge. Another great way to use them is to make a tart. I grew up eating a variety of fruit tarts depending on the season (plum, pear, apple, rhubarb, strawberries, blackberries, etc) and it has remained one of my favourite desserts.
The recipe proposed below is simple, yet delicious (thank you Carême for making such good puff pastry).
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
- 1 pack of Carême Frozen Puff Pastry
- 4 medium ripe pears of a firm variety*, e.g. Bosc pears
- 3 eggs
- 80 ml or 4 tbsp thickened cream
- 70 gr caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Step 1 – Prepare the tart shell: Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Once defrosted, roll-out the pastry so it fits the pan. Rub a 22cm tart pan* with butter and lay the pastry down into the pan. Cut the pastry to the shape of the mold leaving about 1cm on every side as the pastry will shrink. Using a fork, poke holes throughout the whole surface of the pastry. This is called “pricking” and it will prevent the pastry from bubbling.
Step 2 – Blind-bake the tart shell: Place a sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry and fill with baking weights*. Make sure that the weight is equally spread over the entire tart. Place the tart into the oven and cook for 10 minutes. This will prevent the pastry from becoming soggy. Take the tart shell out of the oven and leave to cool slightly.
Step 3 – Prepare the pears: Peel the pears, remove the seeds and cut them in 8. Rub with lemon juice to prevent browning (oxidation)*. If the pears aren’t ripe, poach them in vanilla syrup. I recommend that you buy your pears a couple of days ahead to give them a chance to ripen at room temperature.
Step 4 – Prepare the egg mixture: in a bowl, use a whip to mix the eggs. Then, add 80 ml of thickened cream, 70 gr of caster sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Whip until you obtain an homogenous mixture, but not too hard so as not to create air bubbles.
Step 5 – Assemble the tart: Place the pieces of pears in the tart shell as per the picture below:Then, dust the tart with 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon. Do not follow my example and dust cinnamon over the puff pastry, otherwise it will result in unattractive dark spots.Finally, pour the egg mixture all over the pears. If any air bubbles are visible, poke them with the end of a knife or they will result in burnt spots (see below):
Step 6 – Cook the tart: Reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees. Place the tart in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes. Once cooked, leave it to rest in the oven with the door ajar. The balancing aim is to ensure that the pears are soft, but the pastry is not burnt.
Step 7 – Serve the tart: This tart is particularly enjoyable when eaten warm. Do not hesitate to reheat for 10 minutes in the oven set to 180 degrees. Serve with vanilla ice-cream.
Mix & Match
This tart can just as well be made with apples.
Enjoy with a sweet white wine made of Moscato, Chenin Blanc or Pinot Gris. Prime examples are Coteaux du Layon (Chenin Blanc) from the Loire Valley, Muscat de Rivesaltes from Languedoc-Roussillon, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from the Loire Valley and Pinot Gris from Alsace.
*Did you Know?
- According to Harold McGee in “On Food and Cooking“, “pears are unique among temperate fruits in being of the highest quality when picked mature but still hard and ripened off the tree.” Buy them a few days ahead of consumption and let them ripen slowly at room temperature. The best way to check for ripeness is to gently press the neck of the pear. Once ripe, pears can be refrigerated to slow down the ripening process.
- Tart pans made from different materials will give you very different results. I am pleased with my Anolon Loose Base Tart Pan; It works wonders at producing evenly brown, firm and crispy pastries. And the loose bottom means that I never break a tart when transferring it onto a serving platter. If you are going to buy a new tart pan then I recommend you choose one in heavy gauge metal as it is efficient at evenly transferring heat and therefore produces better results.
- Baking weights can be purchased from specialty stores. Alternatively, rice, dry beans or lentils work just as well. You can re-use the same batch over and over again.
- It is the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the lemon that stops the oxidation process and prevents fruits from browning.