Posts Tagged 'pears'

pear & almond tarts

these tarts were conceived of initially as an exercise in waste management. i had lots of shortcrust pastry, lots of hopes, and so many dreams. but more to the point i had the need to not do what i was meant to be doing – a need which always, invariably ends in baking. the french left was going to have to wait…because i was filled with a sudden, unexpected and extremely pressing sense of urgency to use up my chilled pastry. and i doubt the communards would disapprove of my pear and almond tarts. as it happened, the amount of pastry i had remaining only made for ten tartlets and as a result, i was left with a glut of frangipane mixture. so i was forced to turn that into a cake. mores the pity. it was more of a cake-tart. i spent some minutes looking at the almond mixture – trying to work out the science which would transform this from tart filling to cake, in and of itself. ‘what does it need?’, i asked out loud, much to the consternation of those around me trying to record audio (yes these cakes are the product of a very artistic, if occasionally fraught environs). it had butter, it had sugar, it had eggs, and it had ground almond substituting flour. all it lacked was air and, henceforth and forthwith, lift. so i took my almond mix and to it i added one whisked up egg white and a smattering of baking powder. and poured it into a cake tin. i also lined it with the roasted pears left over from the tartlets, which were, in turn, left over from the free-form pear and raspberry tart, which were loosely based on left overs from some teacakes, which lay in the house that jack built. so here they are – the tartlets and a tart cake. both were lovely and didnt taste like leftovers at all.

ingredients

1/2 quantity shortcrust pastry – divided into ten tartlet tins – pre-baked, ready to rock

350g butter

350g sugar

350g ground almond

4 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

4 pears roasted (in oven on 200 degrees with 2 tbsp vanilla sugar and a few knobs of butter. i used vanilla paste – and tossed the pears in the sugar and vanilla in a bowl before spreading them out on a baking tray to cook – until tender which is about 30 minutes)

couple handfuls of raspberries

preheat the oven to 190 degrees. make the almond mix. beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. add in the ground almonds, then the vanilla and beat to combine. then add the eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated. what you have now is beyond description – its golden, sweet, textually mind blowing heaven. what you no longer have is self-restraint. so at this stage, take a moment to enjoy.

pour the almond mix into the tart cases – filling them almost to the top.

then press the fruit into each one. you can of course exercise your freedoms and use any fruit you choose. and you do not need to roast them first. i did for unrelated practical reasons but mainly on account of a total lack of direction – but they did seem to taste lovely roasted, their flavour concentrated and intensified and given the tarts are only in the oven for 20 minutes, it helped that they had already had some cooking. this again depends on their ripeness. mine were like rocks.

i also used some leftover frozen raspberries – so push them into the top. frozen is probably better because there didnt appear to be any bleeding…which is all you can ask of a raspberry in a cake.

put them into the oven for 20 minutes or until golden

and then there were more….

if you are mad enough to continue on in the belief that you are responsibly managing potential waste (by making another cake that had no where to go and nothing to do, thereby only adding one more step before it all goes to the bin) then take your leftover frangipane mixture. to it, fold in one egg white, which has been whisked to stiff peaks and give it a tsp of baking powder. mix together and then pour into a greased 21cm cake tin. arrange your leftover pears on top, which ever way you see fit and push them in gently to the cake mix

put into the oven, which yes, is still on but turned down to 180 degrees for 30-40minutes or until golden brown

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pear & raspberry tea cakes

teacakes sound so naff. but kugelhopf doesn’t. it has resonances of the old country. wherever that may have been. and all things sweet and heavy which come from the east. and when i saw these teacakes in the ottolenghi cookbook i was filled an overwhelming nostalgia for a time and a place which never existed as well as an insatiable hunger…for teacakes. i began the search for some mini kugelhopf tins. fortuitously there is a baking supplies store conveniently located near my house where the aforementioned tins were also conveniently located. it had been a while since i last turned on the oven…after some failed sourdough i felt it best to keep a low profile. after spending days up to my arms in fermented yeast, i felt a little numb to the whole exercise. and my self-esteem took quite a battering when my first sourdough, albeit a prototype, still in its embryonic/learning-what-not-to-do phase, failed to do any of the things it was required to do, including but not exclusive to, working. but as soon as i saw these teacakes i was suddenly filled with a sense of possibility and hope and i heard hundreds of voices in my head chanting “yes we can”. moved as i was by my own internal dialogue, i decided it was time to get back up on the dying horse and rediscover beauty. i looked to the truest most pure source of beauty i know – butter, sugar and vanilla. and surely enough, there it was. and here it is.

ingredients

180g unsalted butter

260g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1/2tsp baking soda

1/4tsp salt

160g caster sugar

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

170ml sour cream

2 pears halved, cored and cut into 1cm bits

250g raspberries

first preheat your oven to 170 degrees. grease 6 mini kugelhopf tins. you can use muffin tins if you cant find the “proper” tins. no one will judge. but you will end up with muffins rather than teacakes. no one will judge you, you will only be cheating yourself. then prepare your fruit and by that i mean open your bag of frozen raspberries and cut up your pears. pears in small dice…they will stay the size they are so cut them the size that will make sense to your mouth

sift together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt. set this aside. cream the butter and sugar until light and gorgeous. mix in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla and beat well.

gently fold in a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the sour cream. continue this until they are both mixed in and the batter is smooth. finally fold in the pears.


scatter some raspberries onto the base of the tin.

then spoon the mix into the tins and fill it almost to the top and smooth it over.

then press about 5 raspberries into the the mix so they are just below the surface.

bake for 25-30 minutes. check with a stick of any description you can find to make sure they are cooked through. not that there is anything wrong with raw cake batter. but by then, you may have had enough raw dough and will be looking for something more cooked through

let them cool before, in the immortal words of nigella, “applying to face”

nb. smoo – time this took was roughly an hour, including oven time as well as spoon-licking time, raspberry grazing time, and marvelling at the quality sara lee’s frozen raspberries which are remarkably superior to creative gourmet (which seem to come in one large frozen clump as opposed to sara lee’s exquisite, physics-defying, individualised raspberries which have a flavour i n’ere before tasted from a frozen berry) and cheaper.
nbb. i also made a ras-white-choc, replacing the pear with raspberries and inserting 100g white chocolate finely chopped – the berries bled and the chocolate was a bit of overkill. but it was still sublime – as only raspberry and white chocolate can be.

pear tarte tatin

theres something to be said for caramelised pears wrapped in puff pastry, coated in sugar, dripping with butter. its been going since 1898 (yes, the same year the vienna university of economics and business administration was founded under the name K.U.K exportakademie…a very good year) and though its been tried and tested, its never tired and it never fails. its fantastic for those who, much like the tatin sisters, have kitchen based experiences which so often end in chaos, confusion and catastrophe. you might wonder what a 112 year old dish is doing on this highly modern website. the answer is twofold – fold a) 10 sheets of puff pastry and nothing to do and fold b) its a classic…and according to the iranian latte set, it seems to be making a come back. try it -with apples, or plums or pears…anything that goes well with butter and sugar, so the scope is infinite.

ingredients

5 william pears

90g butter

90g caster sugar

2 vanilla beans

1 sheet all butter puff pastry (rolled out to about 20cm diameter)

nb. you will need a frying pan with an oven proof handle. or a boy who takes things apart to make them better and/or different(ly better), who is able to unscrew the pre-existing non-oven proof frying pan handle.

preheat the oven to 190 degrees. in frying pan scatter the butter and the sugar. cross the vanilla beans (which should have already been split and scraped with their vanilla gold dust removed and set aside).

peel, core and cut the pears in half. they might need a squeeze of lemon to stop them oxidizing (big word for a little blog).

then put the pan onto a low heat and melt the butter with the sugar and vanilla.

next add the pears

…oops. add them cut side up. please.

then cover these with your puff pastry and tuck in the edges around the pears…as if tucking then into bed – a glorious, if not hazardous bed, of butter and sugar.

as the butter and sugar melts, spoon the liquid over the pastry. cook for 5 minutes until the sugar caramelises and goes a golden colour.

put the pan in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

remove from the oven, spoon the caramel over the pastry. then place a large plate on top of the pan and flip it. caramel is very hot. and we have already been burned once this week so try to find a more competent person to aid you here. maybe the same clever boy who de-handled your pan. he seems to know what he’s doing.

if people around you have suddenly decided to go on a diet…then take this tart elsewhere. (old men are good for this – they seem to have, in some ways, given up and therefore given in and will be excellent and willing recipients of any excess baked/caramelised goods presented to them.)

danish pastries

my experience of denmark is two fold – danish copenhagen vanilla ice cream (in which even as a young child, with a penchant for campbell’s bolognese sauce from a tin and wendy’s flake shakes, i was able to discern a superiority and even while lacking the requisite language and therefore knowledge to identify those black seeds of vanilla which speckled my hitherto harmonious and uninterrrupted sea of white, i knew they were somehow doing very significant things.) the second is danish pastries – which, ill admit, never really blew my hair back. neither conceptually nor in reality. chocolate and almond croissants always just seemed to make made more sense. but it gets cold, you may not have a kitchen aid, you might also not have 48 hours in which to attempt and invariably wish you hadnt attempted croissants and all the while wintery dreams of europe and its fancies fill the void between where you are and where you want to be. so something had to be done, made and eaten. and therein lies the secret of the danish – what i had been missing all this time – ease. you can create something close to perfection in a matter of minutes (joy: this is figurative…it actually took about an hour, including but not exclusive to, standing still and thinking what to do next time). in the hierarchical and elitist world of pastry (you cant really do much without a kitchen aid, a commercial oven and a number of pastry chefs)…danishes are the great leveller. and in the timeless and poetic words of snow: “pastry is a right, not a privilege”.

ingredients

puff pastry (shop bought because who in their right mind would attempt otherwise)

any fruit you like (but for this i used 2 apples, 2 pears, 1 punnet of strawberries, 2 plums)

caster sugar (for sprinkling)

1 egg for egg wash

…for the pastry cream

1/2 cup sugar (50g)

2 egg yolks

4 tblsp cornflour

1 vanilla bean

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

first make the pastry cream. pour milk and cream into pan on the stove. put vanilla bean and its constituent seeds into milk and bring to just before boiling point. remove from heat and set aside. in a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornflour until pale and fluffy. the cornflour will make this ordinarily easy task much tougher and so you may need your kitchen aid, who should be conveniently located on the other side of the kitchen bench at all times, to finish it off.

slowly and carefully pour some of the hot milk over the eggs and sugar and whisk til it hurts. then you can more liberally pour in the rest of the milk. then return this to the pan and bring back to the boil, stirring constantly. boil for one minute. then strain through a sieve and add the butter and stir until melted. set aside to cool. when it has cooled to warm, cover with gladwrap (or clingfilm, depending on what side of the world you come from and to what extent your language has been victim of imperial cultural domination) and let it cool completely.

preheat the oven to 180 degrees. then prepare the fruit. in any way you like. cut, quarter, chop, dice…whatever feels right.

then get your pastry out of the freezer, or the coldest part of your fridge if your freezer has frozen over. and cut into squares. i cant give measurements here because i dont really do numbers. what i do do, and know a great deal about, is the size of a pastry and so too should you. so i will just say, these squares should be danish size. spread a layer of the pastry cream on the base.


finally place the fruit on the pastry cream in any way you wish. fanning and arraying worked well.


then you will need to use some egg wash for the sides with the new pastry brush you finally acquired and place them on a baking tray. put in the oven and cook for about twenty minutes or until golden brown. (do not get distracted during this time, wander off to pursue other interests or pleasures and return to find an ovenful of blackened pastry…salvaging only one, cursing yourself and your attention deficit tendencies. i wouldnt do such a thing. and my best advice to you is not to either.)

then remove from the oven …

theres something to be said for modesty and humility. likewise, a little self-consciousness in writing. but i think it is fair and accurate to say that with this, i have reached a culinary peak. so too has my photographer reached an artistic apex, the likes of which you are not likely to witness again. that is to say, this is as good as it gets. and i think thats good enough.