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Pear tart with frangipane cream

29 November 2016
Pear tart with frangipane cream

The routine of the obsessive search of perfection in the baking world can become exhausting.

When the time available to dedicate yourself to a recipe is also limited, the tolerance of failure is pretty much non-existent. But that’s all the time you’re allowed to read, understand what to do and get it done. There are no excuses, there are no justifications: if you can’t make it within that time, you’ve failed, tomorrow you’re back at work.
But what is Imperfection? A cake which didn’t raise in the oven, a macaron without collerette, a choux pastry a bit soft, a dull icing?
No, for the perfectionist these are catastrophes, not a missed success. You’re not even considering these scenarios and the level of difficulty of the recipe is no justification whatsoever. Even when just a simple tart is at stake, this must have a perfect shortcrust pastry, an even shape, intact edges, uniform cooking, a golden color. The amateur can be satisfied by obtaining even one of these characteristics, but the perfectionist always and stubbornly aims to the quintet.

A few weeks ago I was deep into this mood of severe analysis of my abilities and therefore, annoyed, I had decided to ditch whisks and rolling pin for a few days. Then, on a Saturday morning, a beautiful sunshine finally decides to honor the weekend, and we decide to invite our families for a barbecue in the garden. You ponder that buying some ice cream for dessert is the option that’s most consistent with your feelings right now. But the ice cream vendor must face the pride of the hurt perfectionist, and so you find yourself wandering around the house with a speech balloon over your head that says “I can’t believe that now I can’t do anything better than go buying ice cream”.

In the kitchen you have some beautiful red pears, in the cupboard some excellent almond flour bought in Sicily, and in the fridge some creamy butter you got in the mountains. You’ve changed your mind, however you still decide to keep a low profile, to pick something easier, something that won’t undermine any further your already fragile confidence.
You knead, you roll out, you decorate. From the oven, only reassuring images and fragrances. You are happy: you have done your job and you have done it well.
Now you are motivated, therefore you decide to go over the top and decorate the tart with small edible flowers and rosemary Leaves.
Dinner is over and you bring the tray to the table.
While you’re cutting the slices your guests, who at this stage are used to rich prizes, special effects and fireworks, look at you with perplexity and a bit puzzled mutter a …“Uhm, a tart? Did you decide to change the type of cakes?”.
“Well, yes, I had some pears…”.
Then silence.
You notice that the slices disappear quickly. A brave one raise his head and, unaware of the bomb he’s about to drop, tells you that this is the nicest cake you’ve ever baked. An orchestra of voices unanimously agrees.
And so the damned perfectionist smiles, enjoys a few moments of happiness, but then she sits back on her chair, and ponders that maybe all those hours spent on meringaggi, ribbon stage and nappature for occasions like Sunday lunches and birthday dinners, maybe have left a sign as strong as a snail’s trail.

(can’t you be happy every now and then?)

Pear tart with frangipane cream

TOOLS

Rectangular mould (or similar shape) of approx. 30 cm
Kitchen machine  with flexi beater 
Rolling pin
Baking paper

INGREDIENTS

Quantities for a 30 cm rectangular tart mould (you will most likely find yourself with extra dough)

For the almond shortcrust pastry

175 g cold butter 
115 g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod or the tip of a teaspoon of vanilla powder
½ lemon zest 
1 big egg
2 g finely grounded salt
250 g weak flour
100 g almond flower (preferably from non-peeled almonds)

For the frangipane cream

100 g icing sugar
100 g soft butter at room temperature
1 spoon of “amaretto” liquor or a drop of almond extract
1 egg
3 spoons of flower
100 g almond flower (preferably from non-peeled almonds)

a pinch of salt
3 pears “Forelle” (or “Williams”) rather hard, not too ripe

Pear tart with frangipane cream

METHOD

For the almond shortcrust pastry

To prepare the pear tart and the frangipane cream start by mixing together, in the food mixer, with a K whisk, the butter, the sugar and the flavouring. Blend without whipping.
Gradually add the egg, previously beaten, and the salt, until all ingredients are well combined.
Then add the two different types of flour as well.
Work the dough just enough for the shortcrust pastry to be uniform and consistent; remove the dough from the food-mixer, turn it into a ball and lay it to rest in the fridge, well covered by a wrap, a cotton cloth or canvas, or a plastic sheet, for about 2 hours.

Once removed from the fridge, roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface until it is 4 mm thick. Don’t work it too hard or too long, handle it as little as possible and let it rest for another 30 min in the fridge.
After the second rest, carefully place it over the mould. Lower the dough slowly along the rims, adjust it with your thumb so that it sticks well to the mould and make sure there is no air between the dough and the mould. Trim the excess dough with a sharp knife and remove all imperfections.
Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork and put it back into the fridge.

For the frangipane cream

Whip the butter and the sugar in the bowl with the Flexi beater until you get smooth foam; gradually add the egg, previously beaten, until the mixture is uniform. Add a pinch of salt, the almond extract or the almond liquor and the different types of flour.

Mix everything well and leave it.

Preparation of the cream tart with Frangipane cream

Pre-heat the oven at 170°. Take out the mould from the fridge and fill it with the frangipane cream, making sure you level the cream well, maybe with the aid of a spoon or a spatula. Peel the pears, cut them in two and remove core, seeds and all fibre-like flesh.

Dip them briefly in lemon juice and place them carefully on the frangipane cream.

Sprinkle them with brown sugar and put the tart in the oven for about 40 min.
Let it rest and cool before you remove it from the mould.

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