17 days A.J. (After Journey)
When pear season arrives; I know the Gravenstein apples should be in the dryer; I know I’ll be backpacking soon and I know special friends will call with a fruit alert.
These Bartlett pears are a blend from two locations; Asti, CA and our backyard. It just so happens that Bartlett pears are one of the best for tarts along with Anjou. However I love tarts and I love using neighborhood fruit, so I’ll put any kind of pear in my tarts!
The call came in from our down the street neighbors. They had recently picked pears and their family home in Asti. Indeed good friends, they kept a bag ready for me on their back porch.
Given our recent reentry into Sebastopol life and home maintenance backlog, I took several days to pick up the pears. During that time they began to ripen, some a bit too much to put into a tart. When you build your pear tart use firm pears. Can the softer pears or toss into an evening salad.
I sorted the bag of pears and found the best tart pears. After peeling, halving and coring them I tossed them into a pot with water, sugar, vanilla bean and sauvignon blanc wine (my preference). Alternately use your favorite white wine. Use a decent quality wine but it doesn’t need to come from your special occasion stash. The fresh vanilla bean is critical for my taste. And the combination of white wine and vanilla is fantastic!
6 Firm Bartlett pears
2 Cups white sugar
3 Cups water
1 Cup white wine
1 Vanilla bean, split
Poach the pears to a cooked but still firm stage. Fork test the pears which means the fork should go in pretty easy but should not continue easy into the middle of the pear. You should have to ‘tug’ a bit to get the fork out of the pear. Let the pears then cool. They continue to cook a bit as they cool.
I usually build my tart over a couple days; a few minutes here and few minutes there. So I then put the pears into a glass bowl and cover with juice and store in the refrigerator.
Next I make the tart dough. I have modified a recipe from Martha Stewart, one of my go to bakers. Tart dough is pretty forgiving since the recipe calls for room temperate butter. In additionally forgiving since I’m using gluten free flours and they don’t toughen like gluten flours. So mix away!
First mix the butter and powdered sugar together. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the fresh orange juice and then the gluten free flour. I use 1/3 each of rice, sorghum and tapioca flours.
Let the dough chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, for at least a couple hours (like any pie or tart dough).
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ Cup powdered sugar
2 Egg yolks, large
1/3 Cup rice flour
1/3 Cup sorghum flour
1/3 Cup tapioca flour
½ Teaspoon kosher salt
2 Teaspoons fresh orange juice
The final component of this fabulous tart is the frangipani filling. It’s super easy and fun to build. Two steps occur simultaneously; browning butter and fluffing up the eggs. Browning the butter is more critical (to keep an eye on) while the fluffing eggs need to expand three fold (and won’t burn or ‘fall’).
9 Ounces unsalted butter
2 Rosemary sprigs
4 Ounces white sugar
1 Ounce rice flour
1 Ounce sorghum flour
1 Ounce tapioca flour
4 Eggs, large
In a small pot melt the butter and add the rosemary sprigs. Over medium heat boil the butter with rosemary until the butter is golden brown. Then slowly pour through a fine wire sieve into a glass heatproof measuring cup to catch the rosemary and residue from the butter. Let sit while you finish up fluffing the egg, sugar and flour mixture. I used the same mix of rice, sorghum and tapioca flours.
After the egg mixture is fluffed add the browned butter by pouring slowly into the edge of the mixing bowl. After all the butter has been added and blended pour into a container and rest in the refrigerator for a couple hours (or over night). While resting is good, the batter can also be used right away.
Finally roll out the dough, put into the tart pan, clean up the edges and chill. I chill in the freezer. Then pour the frangipani fill into the tart shell. Finally add the prepared pears. To prepare the pears slice thinly across the top of each pear half. This thin slicing is traditional and adds a textured look. However, do what you like it. Discover your personal artist taste and wow your friends!
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. The tart should be light to medium brown. Most importantly the crust should be brown (rather than golden brown). A more baked crust keeps away the sogginess on the bottom of the tart shell.
I serve with a slap of soft whipped heavy cream. Ice cream is good or straight up too!
Pear season is a wonderful time of year!