This is a favourite dinner party recipe as it’s so easy to make in advance. I’m always a fan of less stress in the kitchen. There’s nothing worse than slaving over a hot stove, while one’s guests are having all the fun. Pears and almonds are a classic combination. I like to serve this with a big dollop of mascarpone or crème fraiche. It’s delicious the next day too.
(Enough for a 25cm round tart tin)
For the pastry
450g plain/strong white flour
140g icing sugar
225g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg, beaten
For the frangipane
2 large eggs
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
70g self-raising flour
2 drops almond essense (optional)
2-3 large pears, cored and thinly sliced
Apricot glaze (optional)
To make the pastry (ready-made short crust pastry is fine for this recipe too) rub the flour, icing sugar and butter together in large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs (You could also do this in a food processor). Add the beaten egg, along with 1 tbsp cold water. Mix together with a table knife. Bring the dough together and knead lightly to create a ball. Wrap in Clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry thinly on a cool, lightly floured surface and line the tart tin, pressing the pastry into the sides. Evenly prick the pastry base a few times with a fork, then place in the fridge or freezer for a further 30 minutes.
When you’re ready to bake your shell, preheat the oven to 190C/375C/Gas mark 5. Blind bake the shell for 15 minutes, remove the baking beans and parchment, reduce the heat to 160C and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cook on a wire wrack until required.
To make the frangipane, beat the egg lightly in a jug, place the jug in a basin of hot water to warm the egg through. In a food processor, whizz the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and whizz until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the almonds and whizz until combined. Pour in the warmed egg in a slow, steady stream. Pulse in the flour and the almond essence, if using. It should have formed a paste; it doesn’t matter if the almonds are slightly gritty.
Spread the frangipane over the base of the pastry shell. Fan the pear slices over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the frangipane is cooked through.
I like to brush my tart with a little apricot glaze, but this is optional and a dusting of icing sugar will suffice.