An adaptation of the River Café tart, this pear and almond tart uses pears as ripe as you can find them, packed in as many as you can – it makes a big difference to the lightness and freshness of the tart.
For the pastry
175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar
100g chilled unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
2 egg yolks
For the filling
175g blanched almonds
175g unsalted butter, soft
175g caster sugar
7 ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored
First make the pastry by sifting together the flour, icing sugar and salt, and pulsing them together with the butter in a food processor. As soon as the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, add the egg yolks, and run the machine briefly until the pastry comes together in a ball – you may need a tablespoon of cold water, too. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for at least an hour – or overnight – in the fridge. When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4 and grease a 28cm loose-bottomed tart tin. On a cool, floured surface, roll out the pastry as thin as you can –about 2–3mm thick.
Using the rolling pin to help you, lift the pastry and drape it over the tart tin, easing it into the corners and up the sides. Cut off any excess pastry around the rim. Prick the base all over with a fork. Line the tart case with parchment paper and baking beans and bake blind for 10 minutes. Then remove the parchment and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes, until the case turns light golden. Remove the tart case from the oven and turn down the temperature to 150°C/gas 2.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Grind the almonds in the processor till fine, and set aside. Either by hand, in a processor, or with a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and light. Add the almonds, mixing well, then add the eggs one by one. If you are using a processor, you will need to scrape down the sides with a spatula from time to time to make sure everything is well combined.
Lay the pears face down over the pastry case. You should have an extra one that you can chop up into smaller bits and pack into the spaces. Pour over the almond mixture and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour, checking after 50 minutes – when it’s ready the surface should be golden brown. If it is still not done after an hour, finish with a quick blast under the grill. Cool before serving.
Recipe taken from Cooking for Real Life by Joanna Weinberg, published by Bloomsbury, £25.