Jeanne's Pear and Frangipane Tart
Serves 8 - 10
A dessert that has always been a winner with the family (apart from my sister!), at manager's meetings, company meetings and with friends. My dad did say in his email that it's because I'm a pastry chef that it's so good but what he left out is that I've made this tart time and time again (even before I became a pastry chef) and that since the early stages, I listened to any feedback I got, and gradually tweaked the recipe.
- Written in response to Andrew's weekly emails.
Ingredients - Pâte Sucrée (This will be enough for 2 x 9" flans)
- 125g soften butter, cubed
- 180g caster sugar
- 2 vanilla pods or 1/2 tsp of vanilla powder/bean paste or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 250g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- Put the cubed butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. If you haven't taken the butter out before hand then I have a trick for you. Only if you have a blowtorch though!
- Turn the machine on to slow speed until the butter isn't so chunky and has mixed with the sugar a bit. Then turn the speed up by 2 or 3 settings and keep on creaming until it's soft but not fluffy.
Blowtorch Trick: if your butter is too cold it will stick to the sides, so when you've turned the speed up, turn the blowtorch on and play it on the sides of the bowl, keep moving it all around, never hold it in one area. You will see that the heat of the flame is melting the butter on the inside surface of the bowl and the butter moves down to mix in with the colder butter. Take the blowtorch away to allow the butter and sugar mixture to mix properly. If it's still a bit hard and grainy then repeat. It also saves you having to turn off the machine to scrape the butter and sugar down the bowl. I do this all the time as it really saves me time. Mel from our Cobham shop uses the glass bowl for creaming as glass is not as cold as metal the butter naturally slides down more.
- Add the vanilla and mix again.
- Add the egg into the bowl a bit at a time and wait until it is completely mixed in before adding more, in order to lower the risk of the mixture splitting. Another tip is to have the butter, sugar and eggs all at room temperature. However if you have split the mixture then carry on beating it and with the blowtorch, warm the bowl. The heat will help the mix to emulsify again, but don't overdo it as then the mixture will be runny.
- Finally, with the machine off, add half the flour and salt, start on the slowest speed, and mix until most of the flour is absorbed. Stop the machine and add the rest of the flour, mix again until the flour is just absorbed. This will make a very short pastry which is a bit hard to use as it easily breaks when you lift it to try to line your tin with it. So if you are not confident with pastry, do mix it for an extra 10 seconds after the flour has disappeared, this will work the gluten a bit which will hold everything together better.
- The end result of this Pâte Sucrée is more like a really soft paste and not like a normal shortcrust.
- Split the pastry into 2, flatten each to a disc shape, wrap it in some greaseproof paper and leave in the fridge for 20-30 mins. Ideally we want the pastry to be firm but not hard as it would be more difficult to roll. We only need 1 for this recipe, you can freeze the other half, or it will keep for at least 3 or 4 days in the fridge.
- Get 2 sheets of greaseproof or silicone paper, put the disc of pâte sucrée between them and start rolling. I used paper as it stops adding flour into the mixture which would make it drier, and also with paper the pastry never gets sticks to the work surface. Whoever first thought of this was a genius!
- Roll the pastry into a circle: Start in the middle and roll away from you first, then turn the pastry by 45° (Yes, not by 90°) and do the same, this helps you get the same thickness of pastry all around. I generally roll this quite thin, about a couple of millimetres. For those who aren't confident, then roll it to the thickness of a £1 coin as thicker means easier to handle.
- Get a 9inch /23cm Silverwood Flan tin and place it on top of the rolled pastry to check you have enough pastry, roll more if needed, then place the sandwiched sheet into the fridge for 3-5 mins. This recipe has more butter than many others, so it does get soft pretty quickly and becomes highly unmanageable so that is why it goes in the fridge again. Check if it's chilled enough to line the tin, by peeling a bit of the paper away from the pastry, it should come out clean.
- Take the pastry out of the fridge and peel the top paper off. Flip it onto the tin and peel the second sheet of paper off. Now gently ease the pastry in to line the tin completely. Trim the excess pastry. I use my rolling pin to cut the excess pastry but rolling it on the top edges, it just takes seconds.
- Put the tin back into the fridge for 30 mins or in the freezer for 15-20 mins. If we skip this stage and put it straight in the oven to bake blind, the sides of the pastry will fall down because the butter is soft. The aim is for the pastry to get cooked before the butter starts to melt, so the colder it is, the better. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees fan.
- When the pastry is hard enough, use the paper you had used to roll the pastry, place it on top of the pastry and fill it up with baking beans, or any pulses you have. The more beans you use, the better the result. If you can fill the whole flan with beans (I have 3 sets of them at home) then more heat will get to not just the base but also the sides of your flan.
- Place the tin in the oven for 12 mins.
- When the timer goes off, lift a bit of the paper up to see in what state the pastry is. If some pastry comes with the paper then I leave it to bake another 3-5 mins until the paper comes up clean It's hard to really tell you exactly as everyone's ovens are different.
- Take the flan out of the oven, remove paper and baking beans and return the flan to the oven for a further 4-6 mins until just pale/light golden colour as we will bake it again. Again these times will most likely not be the same for you. So for the first time you make this, keep an eye on it.
- Keep the oven on.
Ingredients - Frangipane I start making this when the pastry first goes in the oven.
- 150g butter cubed
- 150g icing sugar sieved
- 1 vanilla pod or 1/4 tsp vanilla powder, bean paste or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.
- 2 medium eggs
- 150g almond powder
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 40ml amaretto
- Put the butter and sieved icing sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Use the paddle attachment and start at the slowest speed until the sugar has mixed in with the butter. Then go up a few notches and cream it until it's soft but not fluffy. Use a blowtorch like before to make this much quicker.
- Crack the egg and like last time, add a pinch of salt to make it water consistency. Pour the egg into the butter mixture a small amount at a time. Beat the egg in very well before adding more.
- Add the almond powder and flour and mix until it's all just absorbed.
- Then finally, the best bit, add the amaretto and mix again. I never measure this and pour it in by eye as I love the flavour, and I think that what I add is closer to 60ml, making a runnier mixture that still bakes very nicely.
- Put the mix in the fridge until later
Ingredients - Poached Pears
- 1 tin of pear halves in syrup (juice is fine as well)
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla pod or 1/4 tsp vanilla powder/ bean paste or extract. (can you tell i love vanilla)
- 150g sugar
- 40ml amaretto
- Put all the above in a Saucier pan and turn your hob on a medium high heat.
- Stay on a high heat until the liquid is boiling, then reduce the heat to medium for 10-15mins. This is a time I try to stick to but sometimes I have been know to forget and leave it all on for up to 30mins. The pears were more fragile but didn't turn into mush.
- Take the pears out, turn your hob on the highest heat and boil the liquid down to a Maple Syrup type consistency. Depending on the quality of your pans and of your hob (Induction hobs are the quickest) then it will vary from a few minutes to up to 15 minutes, so keep an eye on it.
- At this stage we have 2 options, either keep the pears whole, or slice them up. It is quicker to keep them whole, and some prefer the look of it, but it is nicer to eat the sliced ones.
- As the liquid is boiling away, if slicing, get a big chopping board and either a paring knife or small chef's knife.
- Cut each pear lengthways into thin slices. I leave the sliced pears on the chopping board, which is why I used a big one, because they are delicate and I want to handle them as little as possible.
- Put the frangipane in a piping bag. If you don't have any then spoon the mixture in the tart and flatten it as well as you can with the back of a spoon.
- Cut the end of the piping bag and then start to pipe the mixture in the tart going around in circles. Starting from the edge going to the middle, repeat if necessary until you've used all of the mix.
- Get the board with sliced pears and start to place the slices 1 at a time on top of the frangipane in a concentric fashion.
- Bake around 25-35mins. I look for the frangipane to be a golden brown colour and to not wobble a lot anymore, a tiny wobble is good as it will be more moist.
- When it's all baked, take it out and get the pear syrup and a pastry brush. If the syrup is thicker than maple syrup then just add a little bit water to thin it out.
- Whilst the tart is still hot/warm, generously brush syrup on top, especially around the edges as they are dryer than the middle. I go around the tart about 3-4 times and only once or twice in the middle. I often end up with spare syrup which keeps in the fridge forever.