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Pear Tartin

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July 27, 2014 / French / By
Anna

I love tarte tartin. It is traditionally made with apples, but suffering a glut of pears, I have taken to making it with pears. I used to think that tartin recipes were impossibly difficult. Now that I have made many of them using apples, pears and plums, I am foolishly confident.

Making the caramelized fruit mixture is the tricky part. I used to hover over the water and sugar mix in a state of anxiety. Now I bang it on the gas and let it get on with it. Several times recently I suspected that I had crossed the line between golden brown and burnt, but in every case it has turned out fine in the end. The addition of the cold butter just as the sugar is starting to darken saves the day every time. Well so far it has.

This year, as with every other year we have been inundated with pears in our orto (garden) in Bevagna. I pruned the tree heavily this spring. This required at least six hours work over two days and putting life and limb at risk as I clambered around in the branches of this magnificent old tree. Eventually, I called a halt and the tall guy (TTG) and I headed off to buy a ladder. Yes, I had been doing the pruning without proper equipment. Luckily, Italy is still way behind many other parts of the world in terms of health and safety.

Returning with newly purchased ladder, we spent upwards of an hour in a chilly wind trying to put the thing together. It was so simple but we were determined to complicate it.

Having pruned the tree we watched the fruit grow, sometimes from the comfort of the swing-chair that dangles from its branches. Our delightful five-month-old grandson came to stay in June. I had been hoping to spend happy hours in the swing-chair with him, but June Drop put an end to that. June is the month when the tree sheds the excess fruit it has created, which means quite heavy, hard young pears fall from the tree on a daily basis. No one has as yet been hit by one, but the risk to the beautiful baby boy was too great to take.

Actually, a couple of nights ago, it is now July, just as TTG and I were finishing our al fresco dinner, a ripe pear plummeted onto the marble table right in front of us. It was perfect timing and a welcome end to the meal.

The following recipe is suitable for use with pears, plums and the more traditional apples.

BASIC TARTIN RECIPE

5-7 pears cored, peeled and sliced into halves or quarters

200gr sugar

Water to moisten the sugar about 50-100 mils

50gr butter

Put the sugar in a heavy pan add the water, let sit a few minutes then bring to light boil until the mix goes a golden brown or for a stronger taste leave it until a little darker. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Place the fruit in the mix creating the pattern that you want to show once the tart is up-ended. Of course this is the really hard part. But it will taste good no matter what. Practice the techniques, then aim for a stylish appearance. Set this aside to cool completely. You can do this a day ahead but if the fruit is particularly juicy you might need to pour some extra juice off and boil it down, so don’t try it until you are confident.

Pastry

225 gr plain flour

2 tspns sugar

120 gr cold butter

1 medium egg lightly whisked with 2 tspns cold water

Mix the flour and sugar. Cut the butter into small chunks and rub into the flour mix. This can be done by hand or in a food processor. Add the egg mix stirring to form a ball adding a tiny drop more water if needed. Roll in plastic wrap or drop into a bag and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Once chilled, on a floured board roll out the pastry to fit the dish. Use extra flour if needed. Tuck the pastry down the sides of the fruit a little. Bake at 200 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Allow the tart to cool a little then up-end to display the fruit pattern. Enjoy.

Of course you can use bought pastry but homemade is much better. I usually double the recipe and that gives me enough for three or four pies depending on the size of the dish I use. This pastry freezes well for up to six months. Buon appettito.


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Country: Italy

Province/State: Umbria

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$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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