As the trees get even barer and Autumn becomes properly entrenched, I find that my baking gets simpler and quicker. The less faff, the better. Christmas and its insurmountable faff beckons, so until then I think it’s best to turn to the sofa and relax in 2 Fair-Isle jumpers whilst I keep the heating off as long as possible.
So. If you want to use shop-bought, ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, I’ll be right next to you in the aisle. I’ll still show you how to make your own below, as it is excellent practice, as well as surprisingly easy, but I can vouch for the quality of most of the packaged stuff. That means the most difficult thing in this recipe is probably… err. I don’t think there’s anything even a complete baking beginner couldn’t manage. As long as you can slice your pears in half without ending up in A&E, you’re pretty guaranteed of an excellent final tart.
Equally, if you print out and keep this recipe, this tart will work well in any season and with any fruit. The base is the same – pastry and frangipane. But you can add whatever you like on top – apples, raspberries or even chocolate chips would be awesome.
First, make your pastry. Into a large bowl, weigh your flour and your cold butter, chopping it up into little bits. Then, rub them together between your thumbs and fingertips until completely incorporated. They should look like breadcrumbs – this will take about 5 minutes.
Add your ice-cold water and mix everything until it comes together into a dough. This can actually take a bit of work – don’t be tempted to add any more water. It’s far better to work it a little more (even with warm hands!) than add any more water.
Wrap your pastry in cling film and chill it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, but up to 2 days. When you’re ready to get baking, preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease a 12-inch metal tart tin.
Make your frangipane – weigh your soft butter, sugar, almonds and your eggs into a bowl. Mix them together with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Set aside.
Top and tail your pears and chop them in half, taking out any hard core. Don’t worry about peeling them.
Roll out your pastry on a well-floured surface until it is the thickness of a £1 coin. Lay this in your prepared tin and trim around the edge, leaving at least 1cm dangling. This will be trimmed after baking. Fill your tart with your frangipane and then press your pears in, cut-side up.
Sprinkle your pears with a generous layer of caster sugar, then place your tart in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it’s a golden brown on top and the pears are caramelised. Remove from the oven and, once at least partially cooled, remove the tart from its tin and sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.