If you frequent the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market, you’re probably familiar with White Gate Farm. During the season, they’re there every Saturday in their usual corner spot, and it’s always worth stopping by to see what they’ve brought to market. We were excited when Wolf River Apples reappeared again, an outsized variety that produces only every other year, but it’s their pears that we long for and patiently await. While loading up on palm-sized Seckels, we couldn’t resist adding a bagful of russet-skinned Boscs. These versatile pears are crisp and sweet, good for eating out of hand, and also known for their outstanding ability to hold their shape when baked or poached.
To take advantage of these voluptuous Boscs, we featured them in this surprisingly simple Pear Tart — no pre-baking, just a refrigerated crust that can be made ahead of time, and a thin filling of fragrant frangipane made from almond paste, a heavenly complement to the pears. As usual, we substituted some whole wheat flour for the crust, and make sure you’re using almond paste rather than marzipan, which tastes more of sugar than of almonds. If so inclined, it’s possible to make your own almond paste. The tart is finished off with a classic glaze of apricot jam, which adds some gloss and helps to set and preserve the pears, that is, if the tart lasts that long.
1¼ cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose + 1/4 cup whole wheat flour)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
⅓ cup almond paste (not marzipan)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg
Pinch of sea salt
4 to 5 large Bosc pears
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ cup apricot jam
Piece of lemon peel
2 tablespoons water
– Prepare the crust: Combine flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture. Slowly add ice water a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture barely holds together. Gather into a ball and press into a disc, then place in an air-tight container, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll the crust into a 13-inch circle, and press it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim off the excess dough, and chill in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
– Prepare the filling: Beat together the almond paste and sugar to break it apart. Beat in the butter; mix in the egg, flour and salt, and beat until light and fluffy.
– Prepare the pears: Peel and core the pears, then slice them thinly, and ¼ inch thick. Place the slices in a bowl and mix with lemon juice to help preserve their color.
– Heat the oven to 375°F. Spread the filling over the bottom of the tart shell. Next, arrange the pear slices over the filling. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the pears take on color and the edges of the tart are golden brown. Cool tart on a wire rack. Remove tart from pan.
– Prepare glaze: Place the apricot jam, lemon peel and water in a small sauce pan. Warm over medium heat until simmering, constantly stirring, 5 to 8 minutes. Once it has reduced and thickened, remove from heat. Once the tart is cooled, brush the apricot glaze over the pears.
Adapted from Simply Recipes.