J has been nagging me for months, all through sweltering summer, to make a ‘proper’ Sunday lunch pud. Something baked, like “we have at Grandma and Grandad’s in England!”. Well, I promised his favourite, Bakewell tart, this weekend; of course, autumn weather here was blue and blissfully hot (unlike the inclement variety sweeping across where granny and grandad live). But, on went the oven, come what may.
I had a whole load of pears in the fruit bowl about to go to waste so garnished the tart and added the odd slice midway through the topping. They complement almond perfectly. It’s so hard to find pears ‘just ripe’; I’d bought them hard and now all of a sudden they are ripening apace. I can’t resist a good pear; a reminder of childhood autumns when our two enormous, leggy garden pears (with trunks superbly positioned for goalposts), would bear fruit. Mind you, those were rarely ever edible as they would be rock hard and bitter and end up being lobbed in garden wars instead. We didn’t manage the Bakewell as a ‘pud’ after all as the weather and a good walk beckoned after the heat of the kitchen. It was dusk by the time we had a bite, but all the better for it as we’d worked up an appetite by then. Recipe below last photo.
My Bakewell cheats a bit as I don’t use ground almonds in the topping as I find them far too heavy a mix. I add the best quality almond essence I can find, and mix semolina or ground rice with plain flour. If you want a more traditional Bakewell, just use ground almonds instead of the flour but I’d always recommend not using 100 per cent almond in the topping as it’s really lead-weight a pud then.
Pear Bakewell Tart (makes 12 good slices in a 22cm tin)
100g butter (melted)
100g plain flour (or ground almonds if you prefer)
100g semolina or ground rice (polenta too is a good option for ‘texture’ if not using almonds)
80g caster sugar, plus some to sprinkle on top
almond essence – 1 small capful (half tsp)
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, whisked
pears for slices on top and accompaniment.
shortcrust pastry for base (recipe here, end of post)
Make up the pastry and chill it for half an hour while you prepare the filling. Whisk the eggs and almond essence. Melt butter over a low heat and then add slowly to the eggs whisking it gently in. Then, pour the egg-butter mix into all the dry ingredients, beating in until well combined. Set aside while you roll out the pastry and line a flan tin (ideally metal not ceramic). Spread a good two or three tablespoons of apricot jam over the tart base. Spoon on the topping, smoothing over. Add a few thin slices of pear to the mix, if desired, and arrange some on the tart top. Bake in a preheated oven (180°C) for around 45 mins or until the top is risen and golden and firm to touch. Serve hot, warm or cold with cream if desired, and some pear slices. Sprinkle icing sugar and/or more caster sugar over topping, if you wish.
All images © Liz Ayling 2012