Its so lovely and sunny right at the moment – I feel hard done by having to go indoors and actually teach – it feels like summer holidays still. But early each morning and each evening, there is a definite chill or nip in the air. So Autumn is definitely on its way. And then there are the apples and pears, the plums, damsons & figs. Ok, I have to admit, I have apples and plums, the rest are from the “gardens of dad”. His garden is pretty amazing all year round but it is truly off the scale spectacular at this time of year. He arrived around yesterday with a bag of the ripe plump grapes (yes, grapes!) and a bag of the sweetest ripest pears.
So I got the baking thinking hat out and on the hot drive home today, started to dream of warm pear & almond frangipane, definitely more of an Autumnal dish that this weather suggests. Then I started to think of adding dark chocolate too and cozy fires when it gets a bit cooler, maybe some warm homemade custard on the side or softly whipped cream. Anyway, it’s now baked, the beautiful day has turned into a crisp clear evening and this calls for a nice cup of tea. This really is good.
You will need a 26cm/10½in loose-based fluted flan tin, roughly 3.5cm/1¼in deep.
For the filling
100g/3½oz plain dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150g/5½oz softened butter
150g/5½oz castor sugar
150g/5½oz ground almonds
50g/1¾oz self raising flour
3 free-range eggs
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 firm pears (about 500g/1lb 2oz)
15g/½oz flaked almonds
For the Pastry
8oz plain flour
4 oz butter
- Preheat the oven to 200C/425F/Gas 6 and place a baking tray inside.
- Make the pastry by blitzing the flour and butter together in a blender. Combine with just enough water to make a soft pastry. Make ahead if possible and cool in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- Roll out the pastry to fit your flan / tart dish
- Place carefully into your flan dish, prick the base. Then bake blind for 20 minutes.
- Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water, until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Carefully remove from the pan and leave to stand to finish melting, stirring occasionally until smooth.
- Put the butter, ground almonds, sugar, flour and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth and fluffy.
- Spoon all the almond mixture into the tart, working it around the outside before working towards the middle of the pastry case.( I placed the frangipane mixture straight into the hot pie crust and it did worryingly start to liquify but as long as you work quickly, adding and swirling chocolate QUICKLY it didn’t seem to make a difference. I probably would allow the pie to cool a little the next time)
- Drop spoonfuls of the melted chocolate on top and draw the tip of a knife through the mixture to lightly marble.
- Put the lemon juice in a large bowl. Peel the pears and cut into quarters. Remove the cores and discard. Toss the pears with the lemon juice to help prevent them discolouring. (To be perfectly honest this is what I MEANT to do but realised too late I had to lemons so just sliced the pears and put them straight on – couldn’t see any great difference) Arrange the pears around the tart, cut-side down, with the pointy ends towards the middle, pressing gently into the almond batter. Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top.
- Reduce oven temp to 190. Bake on the baking tray in the oven for approx 40/45 minutes. The filling should also feel firm to the touch. If the tart is beginning to overbrown towards the end of the cooking time, loosely cover with a piece of foil. Watch the flaked almonds!
- Cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes and then carefully transfer to a board or serving platter. Serve warm or cold.