Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pear and Almond Torta

pear & almond torta

I think we’re well and truly into autumn now. The leaves have begun to turn, daylight savings has ended and it’s dark by 6pm. I’ve begun to dig scarves and boots from the back of the wardrobe for the cooler, drizzly days, and my daily intake of hot tea is increasing as the temperature drops. Summer fruits have all but disappeared from the market, replaced by apples, pears, mandarins, pumpkins – all the winter favourites. I recently received a beautiful gift in the mail, a box of stunning pears. I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen!

This tart is from an old issue of Delicious magazine that I happened to be flicking through that day, which seemed serendipitous. It’s not quite a tart, not quite a cake, but ridiculously easy to put together and makes a delicious afternoon tea snack, or a quick dessert with a scoop of ice cream (my ginger ice cream was a fabulous match, I can’t talk it up enough!) The original recipe used hazelnuts, but I opted to use ground almonds.

You can make it in a round removable-bottom tart tin as in the original recipe, or a rectangular tin, or also use different fruits if you’re so inclined to experiment. In summer, peaches would be lovely, or perhaps even studded with mixed berries. For me though, it was all about the pears, enjoyed with a cup of my current favourite, Madame Flavour’s Green, Jasmine and Pear tea.

Thanks to Impact Communications for the beautiful pears and other lovely gifts!

pears

Pear and Almond Torta
Adapted from Delicious Magazine (May 2009)
Serves 6

• 120g ground almonds
• ½ cup (110g) caster sugar, plus 2 tsp extra
• 1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 2 eggs
• ¼ cup (60ml) milk
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra 20g chopped butter
• 2 ripe pears
• Icing sugar, to dust, optional

Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Lightly grease a 26cm round loose-bottomed tart pan, or a rectangular tart pan.

Sift the almond meal, caster sugar, flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk together for 30 seconds until well combined. Beat eggs in a separate bowl until they’re just frothy, then whisk in milk, vanilla and cooled butter. Pour the egg mixture into the nut mixture and stir together until well combined. Scrape batter into the prepared dish and spread out evenly.

Peel, quarter and core the pears. Cut each quarter into 5mm thick slices. Layer or fan them, pressing lightly into the top of the batter. Repeat with remaining pear. Sprinkle the extra 2 teaspoons sugar over the pears and dot with little chunks of chilled butter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the batter is slightly puffed and golden (the time may vary depending on the type of dish you’re using. If the top is colouring too quickly, cover loosely with foil.) Transfer to a wiare rack and sift a thickish layer of icing sugar over the top (I forgot to do this!) Allow to cool to lukewarm, cut into slices and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

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