Pears – what a perfect theme for winter here in Sydney. Ripe and in season, they are plentiful and cheap to buy. Often underestimated, I think they go perfectly with the flavour of almonds, and that is how my pear and frangipane tart came about.
I am the first to admit that tarts are not my thing. I love baking, I love desserts and sweet things, yet when it comes to tarts, I’m still yet to master the art of pastry and pastry shells. I think my problem in the past was that I tried to roll out the pastry too thin. Too often you hear judges on cooking competition shows that the pastry is too thick, undercooked, not flaky enough, etc. I was inspired by a Masterchef “masterclass” where they brought on a true pastry chef and he made his pastry and rolled it out into his tin so easily. I thought don’t be afraid, you can do that! Practice makes perfect, so here I go!
When making your pastry, so many things will come into play – your ingredients and their ratios of course, but with the weather being so cold at the moment, it really plays a part to how it will come together, and the texture. You really have to feel and adjust to your environment. So in my recipe, I recommend adding in the “wet” ingredients a little at a time, and testing the result as you go. You don’t want to end up with a pastry that’s too wet or too dry. Dive in, get your hands dirty, and you’ll feel when your pastry is ready. Don’t over-knead. All you need to do is bring everything together.
Don’t have baking weights? No problem. I keep a box of rice that is used specifically for blind baking tart shells. It works just as well, and you can re-use over and over.
Next tip – don’t cover the entire tart with the pears. Too much liquid will come out, and the frangipane will take too long to bake. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience! You may not need all the pears that you slice. Pop them into your mouth! You’ll need a snack while you’re waiting for the tart to bake.
Ready to take it on? Here’s the recipe. It’s really not too difficult, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Top with some good quality vanilla ice cream for an extra indulgence. Enjoy!