It stopped raining for all of 10 minutes this weekend and we are officially sick with cabin fever.
Just over seven inches came down, falling through the wind in horizontal sheets and leaving fallen trees and boggy roads all over the place. A visit from our great friend Sam made the weekend and we took her to pick the last of the blackberries as soon as the rain (briefly) stopped. We picked a few, ate them on the spot and then walked the swollen creek for a while. A freshly fallen tree provided the perfect spot to practice a few moves in Baby and Johnny style (Dirty Dancing?) and we came home to slow-roasted lamb (recipe on it’s way) and this beautiful pear and almond tart (recipe below).
Pear and almond tart
This is a good recipe for when you have a day at home and are able to potter about and return to it every now and then. Not that it’s tricky, there are just a few (easy) steps fairly well spaced out. The result is gorgeous - absolutely worth the effort. And as it seems to improve with a few hours age, this a great one for when you have friends over as it looks pretty, tastes beautiful and is all done and dusted (with icing sugar if you like) well in advance.
For the poached pears
3 pears, peeled, cored and halved
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups water
Heat the sugar, water and lemon together and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the pears and cook on low for about 20 minutes.
For the pastry
This pastry recipe is quite short (ie loads of butter) so it does need lots of resting time in the fridge between handling or it might get fussy and sticky and you might start swearing. Or maybe that’s just me.
150g butter (preferable frozen)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
Place the flour and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blitz for a moment. add the butter and blitz just until you have a coarse sand-like texture. Don’t wait for it to form a ball or it might be over-processed. Tip the mixture out onto a work surface and bring it together with the palm of your hand to form a lovely yellow disc of dough. Wrap this in plastic and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll it out between two pieces of baking paper until about 5mm thick and then gently drape into your tart tin (about a 22c, diameter seems to work perfectly with this quantity of dough), trim the edges by rolling over them with your rolling pin and return to the fridge for another half an hour or so.
For the frangipane filling
6 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tbsp plain flour
1 vanilla bean
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the almond meal, flour, cornflour and the egg and mix until soft and smooth. Stir through the seeds from your vanilla bean and set aside.
Blind bake the tart shell for 10 minutes. Then slice the pear halves horizontally and arrange in a star-shaped pattern on the tart shell. Spoon in the frangipane mix and smooth it out around each pear. Then bake for 15-20 minutes. This is just delicious warm but after a couple of hours the flavours seem to have mingled a little more. So good.