Pear, Blackberry & Frangipane Tart
Anyone else started their blackberry picking yet? The cultivated huge ones are all ready for the picking and the wild smaller variety are almost there. Here’s another fruity recipe from me, this time for the autumn season but it just had to be – foraging some blackberries is great, they’re free and there are loads of them about, just don’t go picking by the roadside, find a nice hedgerow along a footpath and bingo you’ll find blackberries, usually in abundance! For something different than your good old blackberry and apple crumble (although if you’ve picked loads, freeze them on trays, then when frozen bag them up – great for whizzing in to a smoothie too!) – I thought I’d try something a bit different so having looked up various versions of this tart – here is my own:-
Now this bit is entirely up to you – you can either buy some packet pastry and go the easy way for speed, which I did for this version (and actually isn’t as sweet as the version below, if you don’t like things too sweet) or you can go the whole hog and make the pastry up yourself if you have time, which is a bit extra special and well worth the effort….
You’ll need a 23cm fluted loose bottom flan tin. Oven 180 degrees C/fan 160 degrees C – I’ve mentioned before my oven’s a bit cheeky so I’ve gone lower on mine than the temperatures mentioned here).
225g plain flour, plus extra for rolling etc
100g salted butter
100g caster sugar
3 egg yolks, beaten gently with a fork
125g soft salted butter
125g caster sugar – I always use unrefined in all my baking
125g ground almonds
1tbsp plain flour
Grated rind of 1 lemon
4 firm pears
1tsp mixed spice
200g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
If you are making the pastry, do this first. Sprinkle the flour and sugar onto your work surface and cube your butter and dot on top then rub in with your fingertips until you have breadcrumbs. Pile it up and make a well then drop your egg yolks in and gradually work in the flour. Knead very lightly until it comes together then wrap in clingfilm and chill.
Next make your frangipane filling. Cream together the butter and sugar then gradually add in your lightly beaten eggs. When this is nice and smooth fold in the ground almonds, flour and lemon rind until you have a nice smooth paste, should only take a couple of minutes.
Poaching pears – pour the 500ml of water in to a large saucepan, mix the sugar and spices together then add them in, whisk until blended then slowly bring to a simmer. Peel your pears whilst the water is heating up then when it’s simmering lay the peeled pears in the spiced water. Feel free to experiment here with your pear flavouring, you could use star anise, cinnamon or even some ground cardamom. Make sure the pears are covered with liquid, (top up with water if needs be) then cover with an oversized circle of greaseproof, held down with a plate or saucepan lid, just to keep the pears under the liquid. Poach the pears for approx 20 mins until a knife goes in – take care not to overpoach them, they’ll continue cooking. When done, lift out with a slotted spoon and let them drain and cool slightly. Discard the poaching liquid.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the pastry larger than the tin, then roll on to your pin and lift and lay over the tin then press the base and sides in. Roll the pin over the top to remove any excess pastry. Spoon your frangipane batter in to the pastry lined tin and spread evenly.
Cut the pears in half and remove the centres with a teaspoon by scooping it out, and pull any stringy bits out too, ensuring you remove the stalk from the top and calyx from the bottom. Slice them across the width of the pear then lift with your large bladed knife and lay on the tart. Do this with all eight halves until your tart is filled. Dot the blackberries in between the layers of pear.
Place in the oven for approx 20 – 30 mins, keeping an eye on it, then sprinkle two or three teaspoons of caster sugar over the top and give it another 20 mins. It should be lovely and golden and shiny. My tart was looking a bit too juicy at this stage so I removed it from the oven and carefully drained off some of the excess pear juice, then popped it back in for the last ten minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a cooling rack. This is delicious eaten warm, dusted with icing sugar. I love a good spoonful of crème fraiche on the side, but you can serve with ice cream, cream or custard (some of this house have been known to have all three – very naughty!) Delicious and warming food for the soul! Liz