Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Another day, Another Donna Hay

Rustic Vanilla Pear and Almond Tart

Issue 8. It's the one I'm having a love affair with at the moment. And yes, you guessed right, it's a Donna Hay Magazine- the autumn issue, number 8.

So far I have baked this, this and this from issue 8 and it’s not stopping there. Somehow Miss Hay has managed to compile all of my favourite cold weather recipes into this one issue. There’s a lot more where that came from and there’s still a gaggle of recipes I have book marked and there’s still a whole month of winter left. You still haven’t seen all of issue 8.

Butter, Almond filling, Pie weights, Pear Tarts

And obviously you haven’t seen the last of Donna Hay. If I could paint a picture of how I want my dream kitchen to look like, well it would look like a Donna Hay Magazine- clean and crisp, modern with a few vintage twists. I absolutely love her taste, and not to mention the eye candy in every issue, it’s food porn at its grandest. And I actually hate calling it food porn, because it sounds rather vulgar, but unfortunately it is probably the most apt way of describing it.

Anyway, enough of the love struck fanatical prose about Miss Hay. I don’t know how I went through the whole season of autumn without making anything using pears. Luckily I found these beautiful beurre bosc pears at Aboutlife, still at their peak. I usually start looking for pears as soon as autumn rolls in, however this season it seems as if my attention was directed elsewhere. So here I am to rectify this gross neglect.

Beurre Bosc pears

Beurre Bosc pears are characterised by their unique rich yellow russeted skin, its creamy firm and juicy flesh, which makes it ideal for desserts, especially poaching. This tart starts off, with pears that are poached in a vanilla syrup and then arranged over pastry filled with almond frangipane.

The tart is decadent without being too much, if you know what I mean. The almond filling is spongy and light but provides that little bit of richness while the vanilla-soaked pears provides the sugar rush. It’s a great combination of flavours and textures.


Making the tart is quite therapeutic too. Poaching the pears perfumes the air with a beautiful fragrance of vanilla and making the pastry, as in, massaging and rolling out the dough can be quite a soothing exercise. As long as you aren’t making these tarts in a hurry, the whole process, although somewhat lengthy can be satisfying in the end. Especially when the reward at the end is biting into one of the tarts.

I never knew pastry making to be so relaxing; tart making for me usually ends in a big fluster where I am all wound up at the end, barely enjoying the finished result. I have never had much finesse with pastry, but this time because, I left the tarts rather unfinished-rustic, so to speak, I wasn’t so hung up about them looking so pretty like I normally do. I never seem to make pretty tart cases anyway and I thought there was no reason to force it now. So the guise of these un-pretty tarts is, rustic. And that works for me. But if you are a pastry virtuoso, then by all means, pretty the tart up.

Pear Tart, light or dark

The tarts come out of the oven golden and aromatic. You can bake them slightly longer and brush the tops with the extra vanilla syrup to get more caramelised pears, or you can just leave them as is. I made both and preferred the more caramelised version, but really it's up to you. If you ever try these tarts, try to use beurre bosc pears, as they are perfect for this type of cooking.

Rustic Vanilla Pear and Almond Tarts
adapted from Donna Hay Magazine (Issue 8)
serves 6

Rustic Vanilla Pear and Almond Tart

145g unsalted butted, chilled an cubed
2 cups plain all-purpose flour
¼ cup caster sugar
2 tbsp ice water

3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in half (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
¼ cup maple syrup
3 beurre bosc pears, halved and cored

75g unsalted butter
½ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup almond meal
2 tbsp plain all-purpose flour
1½ tbsp Bailey’s Irish Crème

Place the butter, flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
While the motor is running, add enough iced water to form a soft dough.
Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the water, sugar, vanilla bean or extract and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the pears and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.
Remove from the saucepan and allow to cool on a chopping board.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Roll out pastry between two sheets of parchment paper to 3mm thick and line 6 tart tins.
Allow for some dough to overhang on the edges.
Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with pie weights.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove the weights and paper and bake for another 10 minutes or until just light brown.
Remove pastry shells from the oven and set aside to cool.

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and creamy.
Beat in the egg and then fold in the almond meal, flour and Bailey’s.
Spread the filling over the pastry making sure you cover the base completely.
Slice the poached pears and arrange them over the almond filling.
Bake the tart for 50 minutes.
(Alternatively you can brush the tarts with the left over syrup and bake them a little longer or until the pears are slightly caramelised.)

Serve at room temperature with a thick dollop of cream.

Rustic Vanilla Pear and Almond Tart


Ellie said...

What can I say but great minds ;) I happened to make some vanilla poached beurre bosc pears this weekend past, and I have one left in the fridge which may be enough for two little tartlettes :D

Ganesha said...

superbe ! tes tartelettes ont l'air très moelleuses ! Ca donne envie

CollyWolly said...

Ooooooh my............ I simply have got to make this one!!!Thanks so much, pity its bedtime, gotta wait for tomorrow :)

Cheryl said...

Oh look at the carmelization on the end of those pears. You are making my mouth water.

Caty said...

Pear and almond tart is one of my favourite desserts and yours looks fantasic! And I love the Donna Hay magazine too, I bought a copy when I was in New Zealand and it's so much better than any of the food magazines in England.

Julie said...

I'm in the U.S.--in Florida of all places, where it is, well, unpleasantly hot right now. Those are my favorite type of pears, and I love cooking with them in the fall. I am saving the tart recipe because I am a big tart-baker and I like that you described the filling as light and not too much. Great post!

bea at la tartine gourmande said...

Oh JenJen, these look totally delicious. Lovely pictures. Hurrah for tartelettes.

steph said...

that looks delicious! it appears that i discovered and began purchasing "donna hay" in the US around issue 15. so thanks for making up some of her earlier stuff!

Andreea said...

these look so great. definitly on my to do list. just have to find now the conversion from cup to metric :)

Truffle said...

These are just gorgeous! They look delightfully French and so pretty!

leonine194 said...


Patricia Scarpin said...

Jenjen, there's now way you should stop cooking and baking from that magazine - everything is just wonderful!

zeb said...

love your posts,i'm new to sydney and i'm wondering where can i get all my baking ingredients and utensils apart from the supermarket,any reccomendations?

Inne said...

I'll join you in the Donna Hay fan club Jen! I absolutely love her magazine (more so than her cook books, as the magazine is a combination of food and kitchen/tableware).
The tartlets look adorable. And I love the photographs.

Blue Zebra said...

Such beautiful looking tarts. They look sumptuous and festive all at the same time!



jenjen said...

Ellie- wow, now that is freaky!

Ganesha- Merci encore !

CollyWolly- Love to see how yours turn out!

Cheryl- I too preferred the caramelised version. I just love anything caramel right now.

Caty- I have to agree with you, DH Magazine is pretty up there in comparison to many others. It's almost like getting a cookbook every issue.

Julie- It's definitely perfect for fall. Hopefully you will be able to make it.

Bea- Ditto! Tartlettes are definitely winners in my eyes.

Steph- I also only started buying them quite recently. It was not until my mum found some back issues at a garage sale that I was able to indulge in them.

Andreea- I'm sure there is one of those conversion websites that can help you out with that : )

Truffle- Cool, I have never made anything that has been labeled very French. I feel very special.

Leonie- Merci!

Patricia Scarpin- Okay, I will definitely take your advice. And also I just cannot stop myself.

Zeb- Welcome to Sydney! I usually get my baking supplies as in ingredients from specialty stores like Macro, Aboutlife, Fine Food Store. And I get my baking equipment/paraphernalia from stores like Plenty and Victoria's Basement.
Hope that helps and good luck!

Jerry said...

I cannot wait for pears to be in season to eat this. Or maybe I can try the asian pears that are currently in season. Hmm? Choices Choices. As usually great job and wonderful post.

anita said...

Your photo looks straight out of DH magazine! Beautiful tartlets, I agree Donna is so good at creating recipes you want to try!

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Those tarts are gorgeous! I think I would prefer the more caramelized ones as well, that little extra touch looks like it made a beautiful difference.

VeggieGirl said...

haha, I just ate a bosc pear! this pear tart is absolutely gorgeous

e said...

many thanks for this! i must be the rare person who doesn't mind donna hay but is not obsesssed with her. i prefer the magazine to the books; but i only have two magazines! so thanks for producing this entry as i haven't bought the latest issue. i am going to make this when i can get some decent pears from my parents

Niki said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I can't wait to try a tart although I have to admit, I am a bit intimidated. You make it look so tempting!

iamchanelle said...

oh my word - those are be-yew-tiful!!! lovely photos.
i love rustic desserts - you cannot go wrong with a simple elegance you won't fear messing up to eat.

$ha said...

J'aime la manière dont tu décris... et ces magnifiques tartelettes ne font que sublimer le texte!

daphne said...

those tarts look amazing. I always think that rustic looking food look and taste better-it just seem more real. (or maybe that explains my lack of baking skills!).

i'm also a donna hay fan and simply adore the classics 2.

Tartelette said...

As Bea said, "hooray for tartelettes..."! Seriously, these are the most precious things I have seen lately. Beautiful! Your photography is clean and crips, much like a Donna Hay magazine.