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Pear Frangipane Tart is a classic French dessert that you’ll see in pastry shops all over France. Professional and home bakers there use either fresh or canned pears in syrup, and in reality, both ways are highly touted. But this recipe features fresh. Why? Because I fell in love with a big basket of Bartlett pears at a local market and brought it home with little thought as to what I was going to do with all that beautiful fruit when it reached its peak at the same moment. Never one to give up the opportunity for a little fall baking, I decided to try something I’d never actually made before: a frangipane tart made with pears (there is a Cherry Frangipane Tart here on this site and in Gluten-Free Baking Classics- The Heirloom Collection).
I already had my pie crust and frangipane recipes, so I searched my cookbooks for insight and advice about what to do with the pears. Well, I sure got an eyeful. Some bakers said it was absolutely necessary to use Bosc pears. Some said it could only be Anjou — or only Bartlett. Some bakers poached the pears and maintained that this was the only way to do it. But several of my cookbooks, in particular, the more “country French” ones, just placed the uncooked pears onto the frangipane and then into the oven it went. To make matters even more confounding, the bakers who advocated poaching gave conflicting advice: keep the pears whole; cut them in half first; cut them into slices; cool the pears in the poaching liquid; immediately remove the pears from the liquid. It all made my head ache.
So I played around with a pile of pears, and I’m here to tell you that Bartlett pears work just fine. But just to be sure, I poached a Bosc and Anjou to see the difference. And you know what? I don’t get the big deal on why people swear by one type of pear or another. It really seems to depend on the quality of the individual pears you pick/buy. You can make any of them work.
I made one tart with poached pears and one with uncooked pears. We preferred the poached. Why? The taste, appearance and texture of the pears in the tart were more consistent. In fact, the pears tasted better in the tart after they had been poached.
I wanted to arrange the pears in my tart so that they would be thickly sliced but retain their natural shape. The best way to do that would be to poach them either whole or cut in half. I tried both ways, and for the purposes of making this tart, cutting them in half took less time and gave me excellent results (and I didn’t have to worry about whether to core the pears first or about the outsides overcooking while the insides remained firm).
Take note: If you want to create a tart with concentric circles of slices of pear, then you might consider poaching the pears already cut up in slices. It will take even less time then using halves. However, when I tried it, I found it harder to maintain a consistent texture; some of my slices cooked faster than others.
I tried leaving some pears to cool in the cooking liquid, but removed others to a plate to cool as soon as they were tender. There wasn’t much difference for the whole or cut-in half pears. But the slices seemed to get slightly softer, which wouldn’t be good if you were using them in the tart.
(No, I didn’t add lemon to the poaching liquid – as some recipes recommend, and none of my pears became discolored. But I was pretty fast about getting them into the syrup as soon as they were peeled.)
It turns out that this fragrant, golden hued tart is the perfect dessert to serve for an autumn dinner or brunch. The rich, almondy cream filling and tender, sweet pears are a delicious combination that will make every around your table come back for more.
Gluten-Free Pear Frangipane Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart
4 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle
3 medium-size firm, ripe pears, peeled and cut in half
1 9-inch Traditional Pie Crust dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (or butter substitute)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup finely ground almonds
1 tablespoon Brown Rice Flour Mix
1 tablespoon Amaretto (or dark rum)
1 teaspoon almond extract
To poach pears:
1. Combine water, sugar and vanilla bean in a large saucepan; cook over high heat until sugar dissolves. Gently add the pears halves, cut side down, and simmer over medium heat until pears are tender when pierced with a knife (about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of pears you use and how firm they are). Use a slotted spoon to gently lift the pears out of the liquid and place them on a plate to cool. (Can be made two days ahead; store in a tightly sealed container in refrigerator).
2. Boil poaching liquid until it is thick and syrupy (large, clear bubbles will form and break all over the top of the syrup). Set it aside in a container (it will be used to brush over on top of the pears before baking).
To prepare Pie Crust:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Position rack in center of oven. Grease 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray and generously dust with rice flour. Place pie pastry into tart pan and make sure sides are at least 1 1/2 inches high. Bake crust in oven for about 25 minutes until golden and cooked through. Cool on rack while preparing filling (do not put filling into hot crust or the butter will melt and separate; crust can be warm, but not hot).
To prepare Filling:
1. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add egg, almonds, flour, Amaretto, almond extract and beat until smooth and creamy.
To prepare Tart:
1. Spread frangipane evenly over bottom of cooled, baked pie crust.
2. Dry the cooled, poached pear halves with a paper towel and gently remove the cores. Use a small, sharp knife to cut each pear half into 6 horizontal (or vertical) slices. Use a metal spatula to lift each pear half and place it, cut side down, onto the frangipane. Liberally brush some of the poaching syrup across the tops of the pear slices (save remainder for another use).
3. Bake tart in center of oven for about 50 minutes until frangipane is puffed and light brown in color across the entire surface, including the middle. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.
Tart can be made one day ahead. Store tightly covered in refrigerator. Best when eaten within three days of baking.
TRADITIONAL PIE CRUST
From Gluten-Free Baking Classics
This recipe also appears on Foodphilosopher.com
Makes one 8- or 9-inch pie crust or tart crust.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Brown Rice Flour Mix*
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces (or butter substitute)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons orange juice or lemon juice
- Spray 9-inch pie pan or tart pan (with removable bottom) with cooking spray. Generously dust with rice flour.
- Mix flours, sugar, xanthan gum, and salt in large bowl of electric mixer. Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.
- Add egg and orange juice. Mix on low speed until dough holds together; it should not be sticky. Form dough into a ball, using your hands, and place on a sheet of wax paper. Top with a second sheet of wax paper and flatten dough to 1 -inch thickness. Dough can be frozen at this point for up to 1 month; wrap in plastic wrap and then use foil as an outer wrap.
- Roll out dough between the 2 sheets of wax paper. If dough seems tacky, refrigerate for 15 minutes before proceeding. Remove top sheet of wax paper and invert dough into pie/tart pan. Remove remaining sheet of wax paper, and crimp edges for single-crust pie. Dough can also be frozen at this point for up to 1 month; line pie shell with wax paper, wrap in plastic wrap, and use foil as an outer wrap.
*Find my Brown Rice Flour Mix in the recipe section of this blog.
Take note: When you prebake or parbake this crust, do so at a lower temperature than is commonly used for pie crusts made with wheat (see directions below). This is to make sure the dough cooks before it browns. If you notice the crust rising in the middle while it is baking, open the oven quickly and prick it once with the point of a sharp knife or press the crust down lightly. Partially bake this pie crust whenever you are making a fruit pie or quiche.
To partially bake (parbake) a bottom pie crust:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake pastry for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven. Fill and bake as per recipe.
To prebake a bottom pie crust:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Gently prick pastry in 3 places with a fork. Bake pastry for about 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Prebaked pie shells can be stored in airtight plastic containers or plastic wrap in refrigerator for 3 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil, and store in freezer for up to 2 weeks.
©2016 by Annalise Roberts