I had a super busy month last month and have neglected my blog, not from laziness but from sheer lack of time and I’ve really missed it! It’s nearly June and I’ll be back into a recipe or two per week (fingers crossed).
These tarts I made soon after my French Apple Tarts. Often when I make something I’ll think, oh these would be nice in a different shape, or with this, or that and then I just have to make them, to get it out of my system. So these I simply traded the apples for nice juicy, ripe pears, changed the shape and because I used pears I’ve folded some maple syrup through the crème pâtissière (an egg custard, aka pastry cream).
If you haven’t tried it before, crème pâtissière is a thick custard that’s made from scratch with egg yolks, sugar and milk with added flour and cornflour for thickener. It’s used to fill profiteroles, cream puffs and as a filling for tarts and all sorts of pastries. It’s rich, velvety smooth and tastes delicious and is way, way, way…..more delectable than making it with custard powder.
Just like the apple tarts they have somewhat of a rustic charm, they don’t come out of the oven ‘picture perfect’ and I love that, sometimes when things look to ‘perfect’ it can seem to me like it was storebought and not made from scratch and with love. The pears may have moved whilst baking and rearranged themselves and sometimes the peel will ‘catch’ and burn a little. Also they will not be perfect rectangles when they come out of the oven, the pastry may have puffed up more on one side and browned less in places and more in others. But this is why I love them it’s like Nana has whipped some up after a Sunday roast on the farm to use up some of her ample ripe pears and the custard was leftover because she made too much (with eggs from her own hens of course) the other night when she merrily whipped up a rhubarb tart….yes, I can be quite whimsical when it comes to food. 🙂
Haha, I just remembered when I was little I took a pear from her fruit bowl and took a whopping great bite and it shattered, yes, shattered in my mouth…..it was glass, or ceramic. I don’t know, I’ll have to ask her what it was made of, but it wasn’t real. Didn’t learn from it though, I’m still don’t know when to stop eating!
5 medium sized eggs (I used size 7’s and only the yolks are needed)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup standard flour
1/3 cup cornflour
2 cups full cream milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons +1 teaspoon butter
3 ready rolled sheets of flakey puff pastry
1 small egg (size 5 or 6)
4 – 5 small to medium sized ripe pears (I used Comice but any varity would do as long as they are ripe & tasty!)
2 tablespoons white sugar
Icing sugar (confectioners sugar) to dust & extra maple syrup for drizzling
Makes x 6
- You can freeze egg whites in a resealable bag for up to a month (remember to write on the bag how many there are). Often people place the whites into ice cube trays and then once frozen place them into a bag, with each cube being one white, that’s a great idea. You can freeze them up to a year but if you are an avid baker you’ll definitely be baking something with them before then! Remember once defrosted also bring them back to room temperature, especially if making meringues or a pavlova.
- The pastry sheets I used are 25 cm x 25 cm (10 x 10 inches) square.
Let’s get started!
Just a couple of things first: If you haven’t already, and it’s frozen, take the pastry out to defrost and also measure up the maple syrup and set it aside.
To make the crème pâtissière, first separate the eggs. Place the yolks and the sugar into a medium sized bowl and…..
whisk them together well.
Add the flour and the cornflour and…..
…..whisk that in too, until it’s lump free, then set it aside.
Place the milk into a medium sized saucepan and…..
…..over a medium/high heat bring it to the boil. As soon as it starts boiling remove it from the heat.
- Keep an eye on it, as you know boiling milk rises fast, as soon as it starts rising, take it off the heat (I lay my wooden spoon on top just in case I don’t get there quick enough)!
Now pour around half a cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk it in.
Then put all of the mix in the bowl into the saucepan with the remaining milk and whisk it in well. You’ll notice it’ll thicken a little, that’s good.
Return the saucepan to the stove and over a medium/low heat whisk it slowly, making sure there’s no chance it’ll stick to the bottom or sides of the saucepan. Keep on whisking and increasing speed as it starts to thicken…..it won’t take long!
As soon as it’s thick, smooth and lump free (mine took around a minute) remove it from the heat.
Use the whisk to fold through the maple syrup.
Scrap it into a bowl and lay some cling wrap or baking paper over the custard, making sure it is not only totally covering it but sitting right on the custard so that it doesn’t form a crust. Place it in the fridge.
Now line two baking trays with baking paper and grease the sheets of paper with 1/2 teaspoon of butter each.
Fold a sheet of pastry in half to mark it and then cut it along the centre, making two rectangles and then repeat with the other 2 pastry sheets.
Carefully lift and place three rectangles on each lined and greased tray, making a total of 6.
Use your knife to mark an inner rectangle, but this time not cutting right through, just half way through the pastry. Leaving approx a 2 cm / 3/4 inch ‘rim’ between the outside edge and the marked inner rectangle.
Next, using a fork, gently stab (hmm, the words gently and stab don’t really go together do they?), so PIERCE a lot of holes into the inner section. This and the line you marked will make sure that the outer rim will rise and the centre part that holds the custard and the pears will remain flat (stopping it from rising up when baking and the filling sliding right off!).
Next separate the small egg and lightly whisk the white with a fork. Discard roughly half of it and then add the yolk to the remaining white and mix the two together. Using a pastry brush, egg-wash the outer rims.
- When making a small egg-wash I always remove some of the white otherwise it won’t give the pastry enough colour and on the flip side if there’s too much yolk it will burn a little.
Roughly spread out just under 1/2 cup of the crème pâtissière into the centre of each one.
- If you like, you could give the custard a whisking first to make it smooth again.
Wash and peel the pears or leave the peel on if you like.
- When I leave the peel on I think they look better but it can ‘catch’ a bit in the oven and look a wee bit burnt, but I like that look especially with a ‘rustic’ looking tart like these. I personally think they taste better without the peel however that’s my personal preference and it’s totally up to you.
So, peel (or not) the pears and cut them in half lengthwhttp://www.taniaskitchen.co.nz/wp-admin/edit-tags.php?taxonomy=post_tagays through the core. If you don’t have a corer, then slice out a V from the centre of each half or…..
Slice the halves lengthways, as thinly as possible.
- I don’t use the little ends, they make my fans less pretty, we eat those bits!
Time to turn the oven on. Place a rack just below the centre of the oven and preheat your oven to 170°C fan bake oven or 190°C conventional oven, on bake.
I used around 3/4 of a pear on each tart. So fan out the slices and rearrange 1/2 of those slices on top of the custard on one side of the tart and the rest on the other side. Once done, check them over and rearrange or add some slices if you like.
Sprinkle all of your tarts with the white sugar (1 tablespoon per tray/3 tarts).
Divide the 2 tablespoons of butter between all of the tarts placing two knobs (each knob is 1/2 teaspoon) on top of each one.
All done! Now place them into the oven for 25 minutes. Check that the bottoms have nicely browned and if not return them to oven for another 5 minutes.
If you like dust them with icing sugar (aka, confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar). Totally in love with the violas I planted amongst my herbs at the moment, just lovely, 🙂
Serve with ice-cream (I like, Chocolate with these, yummo! but whatever you have) and whipped cream or either one. 🙂
Keeping them fresh – Any left for the next day should be cling wrapped and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat please don’t use the microwave which softens the pastry, just pop them on a tray, then into the oven at the same temperature they were cooked on until they are warm.
So, have you ever eaten something you shouldn’t of that had an unfortunate consequence?