Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pear Tart

Over the weekend, I made a wonderfully simple pear tart, and it was immediately screaming classic. The preparation and completion could not have been easier, and the flavors were divine.

Wright and I were immediately drawn to the juicy, sweet pears at the farmer's market on Saturday. With plans to have friends over for dinner that night, I quickly scooped up four pears and, perhaps too hastily, decided that I was making a pear tart. We spent much longer deliberating on the rest of the meal (we ended up making fresh butternut squash ravioli), and come 5pm, I realized that I hadn't even started to look for a recipe for the pear tart. I was eager to used my new tart pan, but the tart wasn't exactly going to make itself.

Everything I found seemed too complicated for these delicious pears - almond fillings, cranberry sauce, roasted figs, etc. I was on the hunt for the simplest recipe I could find, one that would allow the pears to shine on their own. I also didn't want anything too heavy - with ravioli on the menu for dinner, it had to be a refreshing dessert.

I ended up adapting Alice Waters' recipe for apple tarts. It was perfect, and I am already planning another tart this week!

Pear Tart
Adapted from Alice Waters

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
3 tablespoons chilled water
4 pears (make sure they are juicy and sweet)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup sugar (for glaze)
water (for glaze)

1. Make the crust by combining the first three ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add butter and combine with your hands, until there are only pea-sized chunks. Add the chilled water bit by bit, until the dough comes together (you may need more or less). Knead dough once or twice to make sure it is combined, then form into a disc, wrap in plastic and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Peel pears, placing the peels in a small saucepan. Slice pears about 1/4 inch think.
4. Once dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface into a circle an inch or two wider then the tart pan. Place into pan, pressing lightly into the corners, and letting the extra hang loose.
5. Arrange the pear slices in circles (start on the outside) inside the pan - no need for perfection, this is homemade! Fold the excess dough over the edge of the pears.
6. Brush the top of the tart with the melted butter and sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, turning it halfway to make sure it bakes evenly.
7. While the tart is baking, make the glaze by adding the 1/2 cup of sugar to the saucepan with the peels, and adding enough water just to cover (if anything, go for less water than more water). Bring to a boil and let simmer for the remainder of the baking - about 30 minutes.
8. When the tart is finished, the crust will be golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the glaze (strained) on top.

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