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Recently I’ve been walking a lot. I can’t say the weather has been *all* good here in the UK – lots of wind, torrential rain {caught without my umbrella} and biting cold at times. Other days, we’ve been blessed with glorious sunshine and the warmth of sun on our skin; a sign that spring has sprung and longer, warmer days are coming. Walks and getting out in nature give me a chance to recharge, to ignite my creativity and take my mind away from the distraction of real life. My “stop” button is some form of active meditation – playing tennis, doing a workout, going for a run, enjoying a 30 minute stretch, jumping on my bike or getting outside walking with a good podcast. I’ve learnt in the last year that rest or “time out” is just as important as “time in” – because without it we can’t produce our best work or show up as our best selves.

Pear & Frangipane Tart

It was on one of these walks, along Regent’s Canal, that I thought about making a vanilla-cinnamon poached pear to serve with ice cream. But my imagination got the better of me – because I remembered I had some of Cotswold Flour’s Maizebite cake and pastry flour in the cupboard {kindly gifted to me} which would make for the crispest, most golden of pastries. My sweet pastry recipe replaces some of the flour with ground almonds for a beautifully fruity, marzipan flavour – and a slight woody, toasty and earthy taste that pairs perfectly with the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg from the Bosc pears. So here we are.

Pear & Frangipane Tart

The pastry takes the longest to make and needs at least one hour in the fridge for resting {but preferably overnight}. Make it ahead of time and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week before using. The other elements take no time at all so this is an easy-to-whip-up dessert that looks both impressive and delicate. I love to use a fluted tin that gives a stunning crimp to the outside of the pastry, and recommend serving this with cream or ice cream.

Pear & Frangipane Tart

Vanilla Poached Pear & Frangipane Tart

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http://demo3.goodvibeswebsitedesign.co.uk/wp-json/wp/v2/categories/5 For the pears
2 Bosc pears {these will hold their shape nicely}
750ml water
200g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
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For the pastry
250g Cotswold’s Maizebite flour {gifted} – plain will also work!
100g ground almonds
125g unsalted butter, refrigerated
125g caster sugar
2 eggs + 1 yolk
Pinch of salt

For the frangipane filling
167g unsalted butter
167g caster sugar
167g ground almonds
34g plain flour
2 eggs
1.5 tbsp Poire William liquer {optional}
+ 25g flaked almonds for decorating

To make the pastry

  1. First of all, make your pastry by sifting the flour and salt into a large bowl.
  2. Take your butter from the fridge and place between two pieces of greaseproof paper. Using a rolling pin, bash it firmly until it flattens out. The idea is to soften it so it’s pliable like plasticine, but keep it cold at the same time.
  3. Put the whole slab of butter into the bowl of flour {don’t worry about chopping it up} and cover it well with flour. Now start tearing it into smaller pieces. Keep a light touch and continue to scoop the flour-covered butter up between your hands, rubbing gently between your thumbs and index or fore fingers. It will start to break into smaller pieces. Keep going until the pieces of butter are about the size of your small fingernail.
    N.B. Stop at this point as you don’t want to overwork the dough. if you do, you’ll get a tough pastry as opposed to one that’s flaky.
  4. Add the sugar and ground almonds to your flour mixture, then whisk your eggs and yolk together in a separate bowl.
  5. Add your whisked eggs to the flour mixture and using your hands, start to bring everything together until a dough starts to form. As the dough begins to come together, press down on the dough with both your thumbs, fold and rotate the dough clockwise, repeating this action a few times. Turn your pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface.
  6. Keep gently kneading, folding and bringing it together until the dough is like plasticine and looks smooth and even in colour. Shape into a rough rectangle.
  7. Wrap the pastry in greaseproof paper, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour {or better still, overnight}.

To make the poached pears

  1. Place all the ingredients {except the pears} in a large saucepan. Peel the pears and add them to the pan then place it on the stove and bring to the boil. Reduce to a steady simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  2. Once the pears are cooked and slightly soft, remove the pan from the heat and allow them to cool in the sugar syrup.

To make the frangipane

  1. Beat your butter using an electric whisk until it’s really soft, then add the sugar and ground almonds and mix again until evenly combined.
  2. Add the flour, then the eggs and finally the alcohol {if using}. Mix again, transfer to a small bowl and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

To assemble the tart

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F. Lightly grease a fluted tart tin {I like to use a rectangular one but you can also use a circular tin if you prefer}.
  2. Lightly flour your work surface and a rolling pin, then remove the pastry from the fridge. Roll out your pastry to a thickness of 5mm, roll it up over your rolling pin and then lay it on top of your tart tin.
  3. Gently press the dough into your tin and then using your fingers, trim any excess pastry from the edge of your tin.
    N.B. You will most likely have leftover pastry – this can be kept in the fridge for 1 week, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
  4. Place the tin in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  5. Now prepare your pears: remove them from the syrup and cut in half lengthways. I don’t remove the core or stalk but you can do if you prefer.
  6. Once your pastry has been resting for 30 minutes, remove it from the fridge and fill with the frangipane cream. You can either pipe it in, or spoon it and smooth the surface after. Place the four quarters of your pears flat side down onto the frangipane cream, gently pressing them down.
  7. Scatter the flaked almonds on top and place on a baking tray. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the pastry and filling look golden.
    N.B. You want to make sure there’s no wobble in your frangipane so if it needs a bit longer, bake it for another 5 minutes and check again.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin.
  9. Remove from the tin, sift some icing sugar over the top, slice up and serve hot {or cold} with cream or ice cream.
February 28, 2021
April 2, 2021