It's a beautiful fall day in Paris today. The blue sky contrasts with those unique autumn colours. Just perfect. Me, I'm sitting at my neighborhood boulangerie, having a delicious coffee, writing this post and trying to come up with a menu to serve at the dinner parties I'll be hosting next week.
It’s been crazy lately with all the dinners and trying to keep up with blog. I am quite new at this, and am still getting the hang of things. But I’m getting there, and most importantly I’m enjoying the process.
When I first started hosting dinners at my apartment I maintained the menu for a month or so because it was easier to be organized and get things done. As time went by, I got a little bolder. I now change part of the menu every week.
It’s been pumpkin this and squash that lately. Which means other delicious things have been overlooked lately. Because fall also brings pears, and apples, and quinces, and chestnuts, I’m refocusing. For today anyway :).
Once again I had an EatWith dinner coming up and it seemed only natural to use pears; last two dinners had apples as part of dessert. I made tarte tatin and an apple & caramel verrine. I felt like changing. Using ingredients that were screaming "get me, get me!", every trip to my local market I thought would be a good move. That is how I chose pears.
I had the pears, and now I had to decide what to do with them. I decided that a pear & almond tart, served with crème fraiche and toasted almonds would be a perfect dessert! And it was. My guests loved it! As did I. Lucky for me, I had leftovers that I had for breakfast next day.
And to make things even better, the shortcrust pastry I used is hands down the bust “pate sablée” recipe out there. Really. Thank you Chef Thomas Keller
. Life is definitely better with your tart dough recipe in it!
Makes 2 tarts of 20 cm in diameter
For the Almond Pate Sablée (Shortcrust Pastry)
From Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
All-purpose flour 375 g
Powdered sugar 46 g
Powdered Sugar 94 g
Almond Flour 47 g
Unsalted Butter 225 g
Vanilla Bean ½ u
Eggs 56 g
For the Almond Cream
Only for one Tart
Almond Flour 60 g
Unsalted Butter 60 g
Powdered Sugar 80 g
Eggs ½ u
Rhum a few drops (optional)
For the Finishing Touches
For the Almond Pate Sablée
If you are using a stand mixer:
In a bowl sift the flour and the small amount of powdered sugar.
Using the paddle attachment, bring the butter to a consistency of mayonnaise or “beurre pomade” to use French terminology. Dissolve the salt in the egg. Mix together the big amount of powdered sugar and the almond flour.
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute the seeds evenly. You can learn how to scrape a vanilla bean by watching this video:
Add the powdered sugar mixture to the butter and mix it together at a low speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Incorporate the egg and 1/3 of the flour & powdered sugar mixture. Mix together. Make sure to scrape de bottom of your bowl!!
Finally add the 2/3 of the flour & powdered sugar mixture, mix until it’s incorporated into the batter. You shouldn’t mix very long (about 30/45 seconds). We want to prevent the activation of the gluten in the flour, because we don’t want the dough to become elastic! (It will shrink when in the oven!).
Form a rectangle of about 2 cm tall (it’s easier to roll it out after); wrap it in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you can do it the day before, even better!
If you are using your hands:
In a bowl mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, almond flour, powdered sugar) and the vanilla seeds. Add the butter (cold cold) cut into small cubes.
Using your fingertips, break down the butter, until you obtain a sandy, grainy consistency. There should be pieces of butter still visible, and the color of the dry ingredients has changed towards a more yellowy tone.
Add the egg and mix using one finger.
You can watch the video of how to make “pate sablée”. Even though it is not the same recipe on the video, it is still the same technique. So it might be useful. If not, instructions follow!
Transfer the dough onto your working surface and using the palm of your hand to smear the dough and obtain a homogenous mixture. (The technical French term is “fraiser”). You can repeat the operation up to 3 or 4 times.
Form a rectangle of about 2 cm tall (it’s easier to roll it our after); wrap it in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you can do it the day before, even better!
In the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment, bring the butter to a consistency of mayonnaise or “beurre pomade” to use French terminology. If you are doing this by hand, to bring the butter to mayonnaise consistency, the best way is to use the microwave. BEWARE: you need heat for 5 seconds at a time, mix the butter, and go again. Repeat until you have obtained the “beurre pommade”. It’s very important to do it this way, because if you heat for longer periods you risk of obtaining melted butter. This is something you have to avoid!
Add the powdered sugar and the almond flour and mix until the mixture has gained volume and changed colour slightly. Add the egg and continue to mix. If you are doing this process by hand you should be using a whisk.
Finally add the drops of rhum (completely optional). Transfer onto a hermetic container and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
For the Finishing Touches
Butter a mold. I used a rectangular mold, but any shape works. It’s totally up to you.
Roll out the dough to 3 mm thickness. Because this dough is very fragile I recommend you do this using parchment paper as shown in the photo below.
Using your rolling pin tap down the dough to make it thinner and easier to manipulate, and then proceed to roll it out.
Line the tart mold with the sablée dough.
Using a paring knife cut out the extra dough as shown in the picture below.
Using a piping bag (if you have one) or the back of a spoon garnish with the almond cream.
Peal and cut the pears in half. Sprinkle with some drops of lemon juice to prevent the oxidation of the pears. Slice as thinly as possible keeping the pear shape. Transfer each half onto the tart until it’s covered.
Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes or golden brown. Rotate the tart in the oven half way through the baking time.
Don’t over garnish the tart, because it will overflow, and you’ll be cleaning the oven for a while!