A French Classic from “the little french bakery cookbook” by Susan Holding
(Sweet Pastry Dough)
200 g flour (2 c.)
100 g butter, cold (7 Tbsp.)
20 g sugar (1 Tbsp.)
1 egg 4 g salt (1 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. water, ice cold
vanilla—a dash if desired
Cut butter into ½-inch pieces. On your work surface, make a pile with the butter and flour. Using a pastry or bench scraper, cut the flour and butter together until you have pea-sized pieces. Work quickly so the butter does not get soft or warm. Gather the butter/flour mixture into a fountain, (a circle with a 3- to 4-inch open well in the center). Into the center add the water, egg, sugar and salt. With your fingers, swish these ingredients together until you feel that the salt and sugar are dissolved. Using a pastry or bench scraper, cut the liquid into the flour and butter. The mixture will be shaggy with streaks and bits of butter.
Line the dough up in a long row (left to right) in front of you. The line should be about 2 inches thick, 1 inch high, and 12 inches wide. Working left to right, or right to left, use the heel of your hand to smear the dough straight ahead across your work surface, taking about ⅓ of the line of dough with each pass. Once all the dough has been smeared, gather it back into the line and smear again. You may need a third pass through the dough, which should still have a few streaks of butter in it. Then, flatten the dough into a disk about 6 inches in diameter and ½-inch thick. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill 20-30 minutes.
60 g (4 Tbsp.) butter, soft but not melted
60 g (6 Tbsp.) sugar
60g (2/3 c.) almond flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla
a few pinches of flour
To prepare the almond cream: Place the soft butter and sugar in a small bowl. Using your fingers, mix the butter and sugar together. Add the almond flour and mix. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and mix. The mixture should be very soft and spreadable. If it seems quite loose, add a dusting of flour (no more than 1-2 tsp.).
2 c. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. buttermilk
To prepare in advance: Combine in a glass container and allow to sit undisturbed overnight at room temperature. Then, gently stir the thickened mixture and cool in refrigerator. It will keep two weeks in the refrigerator and becomes tangier with time.
To Assemble the Tart:
1 recipe pâte brisée
1 recipe crème amande (almond cream)
1 can pears halves in syrup
1/2c. nappage (apricot jam), warmed and strained
crème frâiche for garnish/topping
To prepare crust: Lightly butter the edges of a 9-inch tart pan. Roll and place the pâte brisée into the pan. Trim and shape the edges, then place in refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients. Preheat oven to 350F.
To assemble tart: Remove tart crust from the refrigerator. Scrape the cream from the bowl into the crust and spread evenly to ¹⁄₄-⅓-inch thick. Place six pear halves on a clean dry towel to absorb extra syrup. Using a straight chef knife, slice pears crosswise into thin slices about ¹⁄₈-inch thick—but do not separate the slices. Slide a knife or offset spatula under each pear to pick up the whole half; place atop tart cream, narrow part of the pear in the center of the tart and wider end pointing to the edge. Gently press on the slices toward the outer edge to make a fan of slices. Repeat, spacing the pears evenly in the tart. Bake tart 25-35 minutes, until cream is puffed and deep golden brown and crust is golden brown. Allow the tart to cool in the pan. Heat the nappage glaze, and carefully brush the pears and cream. Allow glaze to set 5-10 minutes. Top with a dollop of crème fraiche. Serve and enjoy.