Juicy pears and crunchy hazelnuts team up for a comfortingly moreish tart
• 1/2 batch chilled sweet pastry, (see method)
• 160g skinned, roasted hazelnuts, plus a few extra, halved, for garnish
• 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
• 110g golden caster sugar
• 30g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• nutmeg, for grating
• 80g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
• 2 large eggs, at room temperature
• 2 firm pears
• maple syrup, for glazing
• 24 cm pie dish
• pastry brush
1 For the pastry, put 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 130 g plain flour, 20 g ground almonds, ½ pinch of salt and 90 g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed, in a food processor, and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2 With the motor still running, add about 3 tablespoons of beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water, and pulse until the mixture starts to clump together into a dough. You need to be cautious at this stage as you don’t want sticky pastry. Add a little more water if necessary.
3 Remove the dough from the food processor, flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
4 Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the pie dish. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 3 mm thickness and about 2½ cm wider than the pie dish.
5 Using a floured rolling pin, carefully transfer it to the pie dish and drape it across the top. Let it sink into the dish, and, holding on to the edges, lift and tuck the pastry into the edges of the dish, all the way round, to line it.
6 Trim off any excess pastry and lightly prick the base with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.
7 While the pastry is chilling, pulse the hazelnuts, the ginger and half the sugar in a food processor until finely ground, then add the flour and a good grating of nutmeg, and quickly pulse to combine.
8 Using a hand-held electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, remaining sugar and extracts until pale and fluffy.
9 Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Then gently stir through the nut mixture until it’s totally incorporated.
10 Remove the pastry from the fridge, line it with a piece of baking parchment and fill with baking beans. (Scrunch up the baking parchment before you line the dish and it will be more pliable and fit more snugly.)
11 ‘Blind’ bake the pastry case for 10–15 minutes, until the edges are golden. Remove the parchment and baking beans, and bake for a further 3 minutes, until the pastry is set and the base is golden.
12 Allow to cool for a few minutes, then spread the nut filling evenly into the tart shell. Halve and core the pears, then slice them lengthways, holding the slices together to retain their pear shape. Arrange 3 sliced pear halves on top of the filling, fanning the slices slightly and pressing them lightly into the filling.
13 Scatter the halved hazelnuts around the pears, pressing them lightly into the filling. Bake for 30–40 minutes until the pears are golden and the frangipane is puffed and golden brown.
14 When you remove it from the oven, use a pastry brush to brush the pears, but not the filling, with some maple syrup. Allow the tart to cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack, slice and serve warm, or allow to cool completely and chill.
Recipe courtesy of Rosie Birkett, extracted from A Lot on Her Plate. Photography by Helen Cathcart © Hardie Grant.