Sunday, 20 February 2011

Clotted Cream...oh and Pear & Almond Tart

Good news: We found clotted cream in our supermarket here in the Netherlands.

Bad news: It cost €3.87.

Good news: At that price it's a good way to keep the waistline in check.

When life gives you clotted cream, the rule is you've gotta eat it. Our hands had reached for the little pot of goodness like they were someone else's and we had paid and were out the door before we knew what had happened.

And when you've got a whole lotta cream waiting to be devoured, then the rule is that you've got to make a delicious little something to put it on. This is where this little gem of a tart comes in. I thought that it was going to be the bridesmaid with the cream taking centre stage as the bride but I shouldn't have judged you so soon...sorry. Please forgive me.

If you like almonds then you'll luuurve this. A poached pear is surrounded by a sea of frangipane and topped with flaked almonds. I'm going to make a large version for when some friends come over next week and serve it warm with a cheeky bit of ice cream which, I think would be even better than the clotted stuff. 

Yikes. I'd best get the running shoes on. I'm just looking at it and I've put on a pound. Does the pear cancel it out though?


Adapted from 'Great British Food' (The people behind the 'Canteen' chain of restaurants)

Makes  enough for a 25cm tart or 12 small tarts. (Mine were made in 10cm mini tarts tins).

The original recipe calls for amaretto liqueur. However, being the clumsy fool that I am, I managed to shatter my all time favourite liqueur into a million pieces all over the kitchen floor. And the kitchen cupboards. And the walls. And John's swanky speakers. I haven't told him yet...

I used almond extract instead so you don't have to go out and buy a bottle of amaretto just for a tart.

For the Almond Paste

25cm Sweet pastry case, baked blind (recipe follows)
150g soft butter
2 eggs
4 tsp almond extract
40g plain white flour
150g ground almonds
½ tsp salt 

Flaked Almonds, to scatter

For the Poached Pears

3 firm pears
Juice of ½ lemon
50g caster sugar


First, to make the almond paste, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Lightly beat the eggs with the amaretto and beat this into the butter and sugar mix. Fold in the flour, ground almonds and salt. Set aside and poach the pears.

Peel, quarter and core the pears. Place in a pan with the lemon juice, sugar and enough water to cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until just tender. Drain and cool.

Preheat the oven to fan 160°C. Spoon the almond paste into the tart case, spreading it evenly. Arrange the quartered pears on top of the paste, pushing them in slightly. Scatter over the flaked almonds.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and slightly puffed up. Serve warm...with clotted cream or ice cream. Both are great!

Sweet Pastry Case

From 'Great British Food'
Makes enough for a 25cm tart case.


100g butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
150g plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
45g caster sugar
2 egg yolks


Rub the butter into the flour, salt and sugar, rubbing gently with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Whisk one of the egg yolks with a tablespoon of cold water and slowly add this to the butter and flour, mixing with your fingertips until it forms a dough. Add a little more water if needed.

Shape into a ball and chill for at least an hour. This makes it easier to roll out. Grease your tart tin, sprinkle in a little flour to coat all over and tip out the excess. Roll out the dough on a well floured, cool surface to a round that is slightly larger than the tin. Gently roll the pastry around the rolling pin and lay it over the tin. Ease into the bottom and the sides. Trim off the excess, leaving a slight overhang as the pastry will shrink a little bit when baked. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and chill for 30 minutes. Pricking the case helps to stop it rising too much when baking it blind. Chilling helps to relax the pastry, minimising any shrinkage.

Preheat the oven to fan 175°C. Line the case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans or dried pulses. Bake for 14 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment. Lower the heat to 135°C and bake for a further 25-30 minutes until the pastry has dried out and is a light golden brown.

Beat the remaining egg yolk and brush all over the pastry. Place back in the oven to bake for a final 2 minutes - this is to seal the base to prevent any leaks of filling.

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