Pear Frangipane Tart

Something is to be said about understated neutral flavours, the hint of vanilla and buttery sweetness. Autumn has come through, the wind is chillier than it was and the days are not so blue. What better way to welcome March than with a Pear Frangipane Tart? The Seasonal Food Guide of Australia agrees with me, although I am hung up about saying a temporary goodbye to my beloved stone fruits. I have been eating white peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots like nobody's business. Don't be surprised if you see a few straggling stone fruit recipes come through my blog as I attempt a last stab at savouring/worshipping them in pies and galettes. 

I really like this recipe - there is a strange sense of triumph in getting the pastry just the right sort of buttery, flakey goodness that is required. Moreover, it was much simpler than I thought it would be. Pears are often the neglected fruit, lagging behind apples and bananas (and mangos in my honest opinion - I could eat two in one sitting if not for the damn cost of them!), in shopping basket popularity competitions. 

If you were to compare Beurre Bosc pears to Packham pears, Beurre Bosc pears are the attractive older sister that deserves more than just a lunchbox snack. They're a gorgeous golden green colour and are somewhat sexy. Peeled and poached in a concoction of sugar and vanilla water, you may be tempted to just eat these crisp slices without the tart. They're infused with vanilla and I find not using almond extract here allows you to savour the pear for its natural flavours. 

I have realised that I need a stand mixer and all of its artillery more than ever, as my little ten year old 350 watt Braun multimixer still leads to sore arms and inhibits my ability to multitask or move around the kitchen. If you're not a poor, unfortunate soul like me and do own a stand mixer, by all means use that and pulse, not beat, the pastry.

This recipe was adapted from Food 52, Fork to Belly and From the Kitchen's Pear and Almond Frangipane Tart. You can use the same recipe and swap out the fruits and create a nectarine, blueberry or even apple frangipane. Pear Frangipane is delicious served with a generous dollop of cream or a single scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. That deliciously sinful choice is all yours to make.

Recipe

Poached Pears

5  cups of water (or enough to cover the pears completely)
1  cup of sugar
1  tbsp vanilla extract
3  firm Beurre Bosc pears
peel of 1 lemon or half an orange
(Optional: 3 star anise, 2 cinnamon quills, 1/2 tbsp of almond extract)

  1. Combine all ingredients except for pears in medium-large pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Peel the pears, remove the core and slice into eighths. Add slices to boiling water. 
  3. Blanch for 10 - 12 minutes over medium-high heat, or until pears are soft but retain structure. Remove pears with slotted spoon and transfer to deep bowl. 
  4. Take water off the heat and pour it over the pears until completely covered (this helps to get rid off excess heat from the pot). Let pears cool to room temperature before removing. 
  5. Once cool, strain and dry pear slices with paper towels. Replace with fresh towels once damp to remove as much excess water as possible. This will prevent a soggy tart. 

Pastry

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 /3  cups icing sugar
1/2   tsp salt
125  grams butter (approx 9 tbsp)
1      egg yolk
2      tbsp cold water

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Mix well.
  2. Add the butter and beat until mixture resembles large crumbs.
  3. Add egg yolk and beat until combined.
  4. Beat in cold water until dough starts to pull together.
  5. Fold and kneed the dough with either your hands, or a cake spatula.
  6. Press dough into buttered tart pan.
  7. Put tart into freezer for half an hour to chill.
  8. Pre-heat oven at 160 degrees fan forced or 180 degrees conventional, and bake tart for 10 - 12 minutes, until lightly golden. Set aside to cool. 

Frangipane

100 grams butter (approx 7 tbsp)
1/2  cup castor sugar
2     eggs
2/3  cup ground almonds
1/3  cup plain flour
icing sugar/powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Beat the butter until light and creamy.
  2. Add sugar into the butter mixture and beat until well combined and the butter turns a shade lighter.
  3. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well.
  4. Fold in the almond meal and flour until fully combined with a cake spatula.
  5. Fill the cooled tart shell with mixture. Spread evenly.
  6. Arrange poached pears evenly in a circular direction, pressing down to adhere them to the frangipane.
  7. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes at 160 degrees Fan-forced or 180 degrees conventional, until browned slightly.
  8. Cool completely and dust with icing sugar.
  9. Serve with cream or ice cream.

Enjoy!