BOSC PEAR AND WALNUT TART
If the appearance of this tart leaves you a bit intimidated, don't worry. This tart is so easy to make, and it is difficult to screw up. Come on, give it a try!
When I first saw the image of this tart in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook, I thought it looked delicious. There was no way my tart would look that good, but maybe it would taste alright. I jumped in with both feet and made the tart. And by golly, short of the industrial fluorescent lighting designed for a garage in our kitchen and an Iphone for a camera, I think it doesn't look half bad in comparison to the cookbook.
For a complete tutorial with even more pictures, click here.
The recipe for this wonderful tart was found in a Williams-Sonoma book entitled 'Simple Classics Cookbook' from Chuck Williams' personal recipes. Thank you, Chuck!
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of cake flour (I used 'Soft-as-Silk' brand)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes, refrigerated
2 or 3 tablespoons of ice cold water
For the poaching bath:
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups of cold water
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup of apricot preserves
1 cup walnut pieces
Whipped cream or ice cream (optional)
3 Bosc pears - ripe, but not too overripe, or too firm
(You may also use Comice pears)
This recipe was found in a wonderful cookbook for which I paid a mere quarter
at a yard sale! There have been many yard sale signs that tempted me to keep
driving, keep looking, surely I was getting close to the location. Usually, after driving
five miles, you find yourself in the middle of Podunk, where someone threw an
impromptu yard sale sign up and tossed clothes out on the grass. You know, one
of those 'why bother' sales. The kind of sale where nothing is priced, which always makes me think the seller will determine the price of an item with a perceived idea of your income based on your appearance. Always dress like a slob for such occasions.
This yard sale was different. I actually drove. And drove. And kept driving. Mind you, this
was early in the morning, before a work day. When I finally arrived at the address that
even my GPS didn't recognize, it was well worth the drive. It was a massive sale, one of the finest
collections a bargain hunter could hope for. Or a hoarder's worst nightmare.
Immediately, I hurried to the book section (though at this point, my hurrying was due more to the fact that I should be on my way to work...) to find several large boxes full of books.
The seller said the books were one dollar each, but if I took a few, she would make me a deal.
I selected an armload of books and approached the makeshift checkout. Three women exchanged
glances as if they didn't know what to charge. "Two fifty." I calmly pulled out two dollars, trying to
quell my inner excitement, searching for a third dollar in the bottomless pit of a purse I
carry. Either I was taking too long, or the other customers felt sorry for me, as several
people offered the remaining fifty cents of my balance. Embarrassed, I said that I had more
money, but I was trying to find a dollar that did not have banana stickers all over it.
(Long story, maybe next time. Keep your eye out for a banana-related Instructable, perhaps?)
The books were loaded into the car, I drove off, and let out a squeal of delight. With the car
windows up. Not only did I make it to work on time, but I was filled with glee over my newfangled
treasures! Books are wonderful. But cookbooks are divine!
For this recipe, it would be quite handy to have a pan made especially for making tarts. This pan has tiny scallops along the edges, and a removable bottom, which makes removing the tart a breeze. Just don't
forget about this tidbit when you're removing it from the oven. If you
have a pizza paddle, here is your chance to put it to good use. Not absolutely necessary, but nice to have.
You can squish the juice from a lemon with your hands, but again, this
is rather handy. You don't have to purchase anything fancy, either. As
long as you manage to squeeze out enough lemon juice (make certain there are no seeds
in your juice) then Earth will continue to spin.
You might be able to find something around your home to utilize, but a rolling pin is pretty handy. They don't have to be expensive, either.
Yes, our grandmothers before us used their fingers, and nobody died, yeah, yeah. I'm a gadget girl, and these things are cool. Besides, a pastry blender isn't warm-blooded, and won't add oils and other questionable things to your dough.
It saves time later, and makes the process so much easier.
Measure one cup of walnuts and set aside. Chop to a finer
degree if you desire.
Cut the 1/2 cup of butter into slices and return to the refrigerator. To keep from overworking the dough for your tart crust later, I would suggest cutting the butter into smaller cubes than shown in my picture.
Prepare a glass of ice water. You will be using this water to prepare the tart crust, which you will need to keep nice and cold. Measure one and one half cups of sugar for the poaching bath, and set aside another one Tablespoon for the dough.
Measure one cup of all-purpose flour. Measure one half cup of cake flour.
Grab a salt shaker.
Grab a jar of apricot preserves. You can eyeball a quarter of a cup, no
need to measure. I do not advise using grape jelly. Don't even think about
it, not even in the name of thrifty.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine one cup of all-purpose flour,
1/2 cup cake flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
Whisk or stir until well blended. Remove the butter from the refrigerator that we diced up in step #3, and bring the ice water near your cooking area.
Using a pastry blender (or your fingers), cut the butter into the flour
mixture until it reaches a crumbly oatmeal-like texture. Don't overmix!
Switch to using a fork, and slowly add 2-3 Tablespoons of ice water to
the mix in order to cause the dough to stick together.
Form a ball of the dough, flatten into a flat disc, and press between wax paper or other wrap that will allow you to roll the dough into a round sheet the size of your tart pan. If you do not have oversize waxed paper, you can easily lay two long sheets together at the edges, fold both pieces together in a small fold, then fold a few more times, and press the folds. Unfold the two pieces to form a large sheet. Now do this again, and you will have a top and bottom rolling sheet. Draw a circle a little larger than the size of your tart pan on the waxed paper to use as a rolling guide.
Cut the lemon in half, then either squeeze it, or use a reamer to get as much juice out of the lemon as you can. It helps to do this over a strainer and into a bowl to keep out the seeds.
Set this lemon bath aside.
Peel each pear, removing the stem. Cut each pear in half, then examine the insides of them. The seed spot will need to be cut out, and the little vein where the stem was, as well. You can use a knife or your fingernail, but you'll be able to feel the hard vein. Take this out, or your guests may be picking it out of their teeth.
The seed spot is easy to remove. Simply place the tip of a small knife at the top of the spot (which resembles a cute little Snowy Owl face to me) push the tip in at an angle, and draw around the seeds in a circle while cutting.
As you work, drop each pear half into the lemon juice bath we prepared in Step 6, and mix well.
Bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the
pear halves and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, turning the pears
once, until they are tender. You don't want them to be mushy. Poke them
with a fork, a knife, an ice pick, you get the idea.
Gently transfer the pears to a rack to allow them to drip and cool. Place a paper towel or other material beneath to catch the drips, or you will send out a mass invitation to sweet ants, which we will be discussing later. While the pears are cooling, let's roll out the dough. Next step, please?
Though the original recipe calls for baking this tart at 400° for over an hour,
let's change the rules a bit. I say we reduce the temperature by at
least twenty-five degrees or more. The first fifteen minutes at 400° left the
edges of my first tart a bit darker than I preferred, even with one of those
cheap crust protectors. Adjust to suit your tastes.
For those wondering, in order to type that neat little degree symbol, hold down
the ALT button on your keyboard while typing the number 4344. Cool, huh?)
Turn on the oven light, or use a flashlight, anything, just to get a peek into
the oven to see that beautiful golden tart! Be patient!