Wednesday, November 11, 2015

BAKE // Spiced Custard & Pear Tart


Most of what I know about cooking has been taught to me by my mom, but almost none of that concerned baking. She prefers working with malleable dishes that she could be more spontaneous with; the more exact science of baking never appealed to her. The only time I could count on her to bake was at Thanksgiving, when she would make apple pie. Every year I volunteered to help so that I could steal brown sugar coated apples while I waited for dinner.

My mom, like me, is always disappointed by Thanksgiving dinner. When she cooked Thanksgiving dinner, she hated being confined to the traditional dishes that people associate with the holiday. She thought it should have been an opportunity to be her most creative, but most of my family rallied for cranberry sauce out of a can. I realized this year that pies are the solution to this dilemma.

Most Thanksgiving dinners have at least two varieties of pie; any good Thanksgiving dinner will have at least three. Everyone will expect an apple and a pumpkin pie, but the third pie can really be completely up to you. Have someone bring the apple and pumpkin pies or buy them at the store yourself, and be creative in making your third choice. This Thanksgiving I decided to make a tart instead, featuring autumn's unsung hero, the pear.


Pear Tart with Spiced Custard

for the tart crust:

1/3 cup of white sugar
11 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 egg
1 1/3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt

for the filling

11 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, seeded
zest of 1/2 a grapefruit
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/4 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 teaspoon of clove
5 bosc pears, halved, cored and cut widthwise into 1/4 inch slices

for the glaze


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter for the crust on medium speed until it is a pale yellow color. Add the egg a mix until incorporated. Turn off the mixer and add all of the flour and salt. Starting on the lowest speed, mix the flour into the butter until the dough has come together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and work it into the shape of a disc then wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

3. After 45 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out 1/8 of an inch thick. Line a 9 inch tart pan with the dough and line the tart shell with parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with dry beans or pie weights and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. Fill the tart shell with your pear slices. Fan the slices of each pear half together to maintain the distinct shape of each pear. Bake for 25 minutes.

5. While the pears bake, start the custard. Add the heavy cream to a saucepan with the vanilla bean seeds, grapefruit zest and all of the spices. Bring the mixture to a boil. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Slowly but gradually add the hot cream mixture to the eggs and sugar while constantly whisking until all of the cream has been incorporated  Adding too much cream at once, or not whisking will cause the eggs to scramble.

6.  Pour the custard over your pear slices, filling your tart. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the custard has set. While the tart bakes, mix honey with just enjoy water to give it a thin consistency. When your remove the tart, brush the honey gaze over the top of the tart. Allow to cool completely before serving.