Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Pear Tart Tatin from memory

“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”, Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Mother’s day dessert last Sunday was a dish I’ve been foolish in not baking for about eight years.  I learnt this in Islington from a lovely French chap called Pierre who collected Polaroid photos of his visitor’s shoes and decorated his dining room wall with them.  I offer the recipe from memory.

Firstly, make up a very rough pastry of butter (4oz), plain flour (6oz) and ground rice (2oz).  Work the butter and flour with your fingertips so that it becomes crumb like and then stir in the ground rice and some sugar (about 2oz) and a beaten egg, the latter for binding.  Press the pastry into a ball and place it in the fridge while you prepare the topping. 

Then peel and thickly slice about 3lbs of pears (or apples) and lay them in a large frying pan.  The frying pan must be able to go in the oven (i.e have a metal handle).  If you don’t have one of these frying pans, you can transfer the fruit, once cooked, to a pastry dish.  Place the fruit on top of some melting butter and caster sugar (about 4oz of each).   After about 25 minutes on a moderate heat, the pears will start to caramelise.  Wait until the sugar/ butter thickens and the pear starts to turn brown.  You can get away with using fairly unripe fruit for this recipe.  If you wish, sprinkle on some cinnamon or grated lemon zest.

Remove the fruit from the heat and the pastry from the fridge and roll out the pastry roughly to fit over the frying pan.  The pastry might collapse or crumble, but it doesn’t matter.  Patch it together and press it down gently over the fruit, taking care not to burn your hands on the caramelised fruit.  Then put the frying pan in a moderate heated oven for about 25 minutes until the pastry is bubbly and slightly brown.  Remove from the oven and let it stand for about 10 mins.  Tip the tart out of the frying plan onto a serving plate.  It should smell divine.  I drizzled the top with melted chocolate, but this didn’t particularly add anything other than get the kids excited.  Serve warm with cream – sour cream works as it offsets the sweetness of the tart. 

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