Baking Amy

A year of baking disasters and triumphs

Poached Pear & Frangipane Tart

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I’m calling this one a disaster tart because from start to finish nothing seemed to go right with this one. I knew it was a bad idea to make a tart when it was 40 C in Melbourne, but I’d seen this recipe and had been thinking about it all week. The original recipe is from the book Tea with Bea and uses pears poached in a spiced merlot liquid, which sounds delicious but I didn’t think the flavours would be to my 2 and 3 year olds pallets. Plus buying a bottle of wine would make this an expensive tart for a Sunday dinner so I decided to use this recipe from Beyond Wonderful instead.

Recipe & Methods

Pate sable pie crust

  • 250g plain flour
  • 120g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 2 eggs
  1. Put the butter and flour into a bowl and rub between your fingers until it looks like sand (I used my stand mixer, maybe I shouldn’t have)
  2. Stir in the icing sugar
  3. Add the eggs and knead lightly until it comes together into a smooth ball. (In hind sight I should have used my hands for this bit but I didn’t, I used my stand mixer. I also should have added the eggs a little at a time because I ended up with a big sticky mess and had to add more flour, not sure how much exactly but by the time I’d finished, I knew I’d overworked my dough)
  4. Cut the dough in half, flatten slightly and chill for 10 minutes (the recipe only calls for half the dough, the other half can be frozen) but I wish I’d used all of it because my pasty turned out a little too thin I think)
  5. Preheat oven to 170 C
  6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick, put into a 23 cm tart tin and chill for 10 minutes
  7. Blind bake  for 20-25 minutes until a dry light golden colour (my first attempt was in for around 15 minutes and was over done)

Poached pears

  • 4 firm pears
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice (I used 3 lemons for juice)
  • 1 vanilla bean (I used a ~2 tsp vanilla extract instead because one vanilla pod cost >$5)
  1. Put the water, sugar and vanilla into a pan and heat until sugar is dissolved and liquid is simmering
  2. Place pealed whole pears (I cut mine in half because they were really hard and I wanted to speed up the cooking time) into the liquid, cover with baking paper and a plate so that the pears remain submerged
  3. Simmer for 30 mins over low heat (I have no idea how firm or soft the pears should be after 30 mins and i’m not sure how long I cooked mine for but it was a while and they were very soft when I pulled them out, maybe I should have stuck to the recipe)
  4. When cool, quarter the pears, remove the core and slice into thin wedges
  5. Reserve 1 cup of poaching liquid

Frangipane

  • 250g butter softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g almond meal
  • 1 tbsp. cornflour
  1. Whisk butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  2. whisk in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated
  3. Fold in almond meal and cornflour until thoroughly combined

Assembly

  1. Arrange the pears over the base of the blind baked pastry
  2. Spoon the frangipane around the pears (hmm, my pears covered the whole pastry base so I kinda just plonked the frangipane on top)
  3. Bake in a preheated 170 C oven for 25-35 minutes (my experience was that this amount of time was not enough, see below) until filling is set and golden brown
  4. Heat reserved poaching liquid over medium-low heat until it reaches a syrup consistency and poor over cooled tart

So, what went wrong?

Well, first I over worked my pastry dough, then I over cooked it. I decided to use the left over dough to bake another shell but didn’t quite have enough, I baked it anyway but forgot to put in the baking beans, I remember a few minutes into the cooking time when it was all starting to melt down the sides. I managed to rescue it and achieved the colour I wanted but the pastry was tough and rubbish due to over working it. I considered making more but decided against it because it was around 30 C in my house and not getting any cooler.

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Then, I over poached the pears, and they had started to turn to mush. After I had baked the frangipane and let it cool I tried to get in out of the tin, which was pretty easy as it was a loose bottom, but when I tried to slide it off the bottom it broke and uncooked frangipane leaked everywhere! Oh no, major disaster!! I quickly put everything back into the tin and cooked it for, I have no idea how long but it was a while. I had to cover it with foil so that it didn’t get too dark on top. Then when it was finally cooked, or rather I was bored of cooking the dam thing I put the cold syrup, which now had the consistency of marmalade, onto the hot tart. In the end it didn’t look that bad and it was eaten by everyone, so it must have tasted ok.

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I think, if I hadn’t of over poached the pears they wouldn’t have held so much liquid and made the frangipane soggy. Maybe I should have also put the pears on the top rather than the bottom. In the book the picture shows the pears surrounded by frangipane but not covered in it, not sure how Bea achieved that as my pears covered the whole base so the only place for the frangipane to go was on top of the pears.

I think I will attempt a tart like this again but I will wait for a cooler day. Next week my son is turning two and has requested a strawberry cake and a green cake!