Almonds and pears are such a classic combination. They work so beautifully well together. And when the pears are poached lightly in a simple syrup containing vanilla and cinnamon the whole tart really comes alive. The flaked almonds provide a lovely contrast of texture and once finished with a glaze of apricot jam the whole bake looks incredibly inviting, perfect for a bake sale or a simple afternoon tea with friends and family as we did.
Now, although Michele Roux Jnr's recipe is lovely, I admit that I tweaked it a little. I adjusted the pastry by removing the butter and replacing it with sunflower oil, a tweak which reduces the saturated fat content but one which works surprisingly well, like when I made our Apple Rose Tart and our Vegan Beetroot and Lentil Pie.
So, here's how to make a classic Pear and Almond Tart!
Classic Pear & Almond Tart
For the pastry
- 200 g plain flour + extra for rolling
- 80 g ground almonds
- 60 g icing sugar
- pinch salt
- 70 ml sunflower oil or light olive oil, vegetable oil, rapeseed oil, groundnut oil
- 5-6 tbsp water
For poached pears
- 300-400 ml water
- 1 vanilla pod split
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 250 g caster sugar
- 2 pears we used Concorde
For the frangipane filling
- 115 g unsalted butter softened
- 115 g caster sugar
- 115 g ground almonds
- 115 g eggs lightly beaten (about 2 large eggs)
- small handful flaked almonds
- 2 tsp apricot jam ideally smooth blended with a drop or two of water to slacken
- Prepare and poach the pears. Pour the water into a moderately sized pan. Add the sugar, split vanilla pod and cinnamon stick. Place onto the hob over a medium heat to allow the sugar to dissolve. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile peel the pears. Slice them into quarters through the ‘poles’. Remove the core. Once the sugar in the pan of water has dissolved, gently place the pear quarters into the pan. Poach the pears gently for about 15 minutes until they feel tender once a sharp knife is inserted. Turn the heat off and allow the pears to cool with the water.
- Make the pastry. Meanwhile, place the flour, ground almonds, icing sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine the ingredients. Pour in the oil. Add 3 tbsp cold water. Use a knife to cut through the ingredients to create a dough. Add a little more water as necessary to bring it together, though only add a little at a time so as to avoid making the pastry too wet. Bring the dough together into a ball and flatten to a disc. Wrap in clingfilm and set aside to rest for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 200℃/ Fan 180℃/ Gas 6. Place a baking sheet into the oven large enough to house the tart case.
- Line the tart case. Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Roll out the pastry into a circle about 4mm thick. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry into the tart case. Use your fingertips and knuckle to gently fit the pastry to the tart case. Avoid stretching it. Use a clean pair of scissors to trim away most of the excess pastry (the final trim will be done once blind baked and the risk of shrinkage reduced). Carefully place the lined tart case into the fridge to rest for about 20 – 30 minutes.
- Blind bake the pastry. Use a fork to prick the pastry base. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper large enough to line the pastry case. Scrunch it up. Open it out. Fill it with baking beans, uncooked rice or pasta. Place the pastry case into the oven on the heated baking sheet. Bake for 13 minutes. Remove it from the oven. Use a sharp knife to trim away the excess pastry. Return the pastry case to the oven (without the greaseproof paper and baking beans). Bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place onto a cooling tray. Keep the oven on and the baking tray in the oven.
- Make the frangipane. With a stand mixer, electric beaters or wooden spoon beat the butter until it’s soft. Add the sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds and beat to combine. Add the lightly beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Assemble the pear tart. Carefully remove the poached pears from the poaching liquor. Place them onto some absorbent kitchen roll. Dab gently to dry. Spoon the frangipane filling into the blind baked pastry case. Use the back of a spoon to spread out the mixture. Arrange the drained pears on top of the frangipane with the pointed ends pointing towards the centre. There’s no need to push the pears into the frangipane. Scatter the flaked almonds over the frangipane, moving the almond flakes which land on the pears themselves.
- Bake. Place the tart into the oven on the baking sheet. Bake for about 35 minutes until a good golden brown. You may need to rotate the tart after about 20-25 minutes of baking. Use a skewer or tooth pick to test if the frangipane is cooked through. Remove the tart from the oven and place onto a cooling rack. Use a pastry brush to carefully brush the apricot jam over the surface of the frangipane.
- Enjoy either warm or cold with cream or on its own.
- 1 x 21cm loose-bottomed tart case