LAWRENCE MURPHY: Pear, honey and almond tart

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Sadly, the trees outside the restaurant have now lost their red, yellow and golden leaves.

Sadly, the trees outside the restaurant have now lost their red, yellow and golden leaves.

It was wonderful to walk in the countryside this autumn, kicking leaf piles as the dogs charged around looking for squirrels to chase.

I often find myself thinking about what produce is best to eat while on such walks.

I will usually come up with an idea, new or old, to try when I get back to the kitchen.

Pears, although available most of the year, are at their best from October to January and my train of thought was on this autumnal fruit.

Gently poached with custard, raw with cheese, pickled with ham, roasted, or maybe with chocolate – the possibilities seemed to be endless.

But I love the way pears are transformed when you poach them gently.

So that is the basis for this recipe.

Add some honey and ground almonds for a variation of Bakewell tart to eat on your return from that walk in the woods.

Or you could serve it warm with vanilla ice cream as a cracking dessert.

Pear, honey and almond tart

Ingredients

175g plain flour

25g corn flour

100g butter

25g caster sugar

1 egg

200g butter

150g sugar

50g honey

170g ground almonds

30g self-raising flour

3 eggs

25g sliced almonds for the top

3 pears

700g sugar

1 litre water

100ml white wine

Bay leaf

10 peppercorns

Method

1. Poach the pears by putting the sugar, water, wine, peppercorns and bay in a saucepan big enough for the pears.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. While this is simmering peel the pears.

3. Cut the pears in half lengthways and drop into the simmering liquor.

4. Simmer for 12 minutes and check the pears are softening using a skewer. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

5. Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour and cornflour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

6. Mix in the sugar and add the egg. Bring together to form a dough. Rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

7. Roll out the pastry and line a deep 22cm tart case.

8. Rest again in the fridge and then cook it blind until lightly golden – preheated oven 190C/gas 5.

9. Allow the pastry case to cool then remove the cores, slice the pears and put them in the bottom of the case.

10. Beat the sugar, honey and butter together until soft.

11. Add one egg and a third of the almonds and the self-raising flour. Mix. Add one more egg, a third of the almonds and mix.

12. Now add the last egg and almonds.

13 Pour this mixture over the pears and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

14. Bake in a preheated oven 150C/gas 3 for an hour. Check with a skewer (it will come out clean if the almond paste is cooked) – if not, continue cooking in five-minute intervals and check again.