Fragrantly flavoured and meltingly soft, pears are at their peak this month. This delicious dessert is the perfect showcase, combining the sweetest fruit with almonds and cardamom in meltingly short pastry.
175g plain flour
100g lightly salted butter, diced
50g icing sugar
2 medium egg yolks
For the filling:
100g blanched almonds
15 cardamom pods
100g lightly salted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsps juice
3 medium free range eggs, beaten
35g plain flour
5 small pears
4 tbsps pear conserve
1 Put the flour and butter in a food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar, egg yolks and 1 tsp cold water and blend to form a dough. Tip out on to a floured surface and shape into a smooth ball. Wrap the pastry and chill for at least 1 hour.
2 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Thinly roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use to line a 25cm loose-base tart tin with a depth of about 2.5cm. Line with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Lift out the beans and paper and slide the pastry, in its tin, on to a baking sheet. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
3 Blend the almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Crush the cardamom pods using a pestle and mortar. Discard the shells and grind the seeds a little more. In a bowl, beat the butter, sugar, cardamom seeds and lemon zest until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs then stir in the ground almonds and flour to make a thick paste. Pour into the pastry case.
4 Peel three pears, keeping stalks intact. Make cuts around each pear and roll in 1 tbsp lemon juice. Peel, halve and core the remaining pears (you’ll only need 3 halves), make cuts down the length and roll in lemon juice. Arrange in the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes until filling is just firm.
5 Press the conserve through a sieve into a pan to remove any pieces and stir in the remaining lemon juice. Heat gently and use to glaze the tart.
Recipe: Joanna Farrow. Photograph: Emma Mitchell
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