I swear I say this about every recipe I share, but this tart has to be one of my favourite desserts ever. What I love most about it is that the pears can be substituted for a vast array of different fruits, from apricots to cherries, and it works out every time. This scrumptious tart has the yummiest pastry and tastes amazingly with either double cream or custard (which is my preference!). It’s based on Lorraine Pascale’s recipe with a few changes here and there. Mum and I use Nigella Lawson’s almond sweet pastry recipe (which is on p.292 of How To Eat). You can use shop bought pastry, but this, in my opinion, is so much better!
ALMOND SWEET PASTRY
- 17g plain flour
- 30g ground almonds
- 65g icing sugar
- 130g very cold butter (cut into cubes)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg yolk
- Put all the above ingredients (except the egg) in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to making the pastry.
- We make our pastry in a food processor as it makes the job easy, so if you have one get it set up. If you don’t, you can make the pastry by hand.
- You will need a 10 x 34cm fluted loose bottom tin that is 2.5cm deep.
Put the cold flour, salt, ground almonds and icing sugar in the processor with the butter and whiz. When blended, add the egg yolk and whiz again to bring it all together. If necessary add a few drops of cold water to bring the dough together.
Take the pastry out of the processor and create a flattened disc shape about 2cm thick. Wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
After, roll the pastry out. The most efficient way to roll the pastry thinly is to do so with two pieces of clingfilm – one piece underneath the pastry and one piece on top, both dusted with a little flour to prevent it sticking. Then, with your fingers, press the pastry out a bit and then proceed to using a rolling pin – this helps to prevent the pastry breaking.
Once the pastry is thin enough, carefully line the tin. Bits may break off, but don’t worry, you can do some patchwork and it will come out fine in the end! Just remember, no one sees inside the pastry thanks to the sponge filling! Trim the top edges to make it neat and tidy, and put it back in the fridge whilst you make the sponge.
ALMOND & AMARETTO SPONGE FILLING
- 100g very soft butter
- 100g caster sugar (‘unrefined golden’ preferably)
- 100g ground almonds
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tbsp amaretto liqueur
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Put the oven shelf on the lowest rungs – this ensures the tart does not go too brown.
- Drain the pears and leave them on some kitchen paper to allow more excess juice to be absorbed.
Mix the butter and sugar together with an electric hand whisk until light in colour and thoroughly combined. The longer you mix the butter and sugar, the smoother your sponge will be.
Add the ground almonds and plain flour and beat again. Then, add the egg and amaretto, and whisk thoroughly.
Remove the pastry-lined tin from the fridge and carefully add the filling along the centre. Spread the batter out evenly, gently easing the filling towards the sides to keep it neat.
Arrange 6 pear halves in the almond filling. We place the pears cut-side down and alternate the pattern with one pear pointing one way and the next pointing the other. You don’t need to do this, it just makes it look nicer!
Bake the tart in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is well risen, golden and cooked through. The tin should be placed lengthways left to right in the oven (as opposed to one half being a the back of the oven and the other half right at the front). Check after about 30 minutes and turn the tin around if one side is browning more than the other.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack in the tin. Don’t remove the tart from the tin until it has cooled completely, otherwise the pastry will more than likely break.
Dust with icing sugar and decorate with mint leaves if you’d like. It can be served warm or cold (with custard, of course…I’m totally not biased against cream…totally not!). Enjoy!