Culture Street

There’s always someone in your group of friends who inspires awe when it
comes to baking. For us it’s my friend Kate. She’s lived in France and is a bit
of a cake whisperer. Whatever sweetness she brings to any BBQ or dinner is
always the first thing to be devoured. What’s funny, though, is that when little
kids pronounce her name it sounds like Cake. No wonder she has become my
baking guru and helped me with lots of the sweet stuff in this book. This tart
is the first thing of hers that I ever ate. It’s a showstopper – a take on a recipe
from the River Café, in London, which was inspired by the myriad pear and
almond tarts of Italy.

Serves 10–12

Ingredients

250 g plain flour

¼  teaspoon salt

120 g unsalted butter, cold

75 g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon iced water

Filling

225 g flaked almonds

225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

225 g caster sugar

2 eggs

4 ripe Packham pears, or similar

Method

Place the flour and salt in a food processor, add the cold butter and pulse until
the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar and pulse until
combined, then add the egg yolks and pulse again. At this point the dough should
combine and start to come away from the side. If the dough is too dry, add the
water, bit by bit, until it comes together.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and bring together quickly into a disc.
Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to chill.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter and flour a loose-bottomed, 28 cm tart tin.
Roll out the dough quickly (so the dough doesn’t become overworked) until it is
about 4 mm thick. Lift the pastry quickly (so that the pastry doesn’t stretch and
become uneven) over the tin and press down into the sides. Trim the edge, cover
with foil, and blind bake (see page 222) for about 20 minutes until light brown.
Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C.

Filling

Place the almonds in a food processor and chop until they are like coarse
sand, not too fine. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture
is pale and light. Add the almonds and blend. Beat in the eggs one at a time. At
this point you should have a thick almond cream that can be scooped out with
a spoon.

Peel, core, and halve the pears. Place one in the centre of the cooked tart case,
and the rest around it facing inwards. Pour the almond cream roughly around the
pears, leaving space between the rim and the pears, so the filling has room to
spread. Bake the tart for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

This tart is best made in advance, and is even better on day two. Serve with
some good double cream.

Recipe and image from Matt Preston's Fast, Fresh and Unbelievably Delicious, published by Pan Macmillan Australia, $39.99.

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