Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pear Pies with Tea-Infused Custard

pear pies with tea-infused custard

I’m just going to come right out and say it…these pies are awesome.

I usually wouldn’t post two pear recipes in as many weeks, but I just had to share these. They came about because I still had quite a few beautiful pears left from the box sent by Impact Communications. I have had this particular recipe from Gourmet Traveller book-marked for years and thought it was definitely time to dust it off and give it a try. I like fresh pears just fine, but I love pear desserts, especially in autumn and winter as the weather cools down (as it is starting to do now, brrrr!)

I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this pastry recipe. While attempting to roll it out and line the pans, my black top and every square inch of bench space absolutely covered with flour, I let out a few choice swear words as the delicate pastry tore and fell apart every few seconds. Argh! But it baked up absolutely beautifully and was totally worth all the initial frustration. The filling however, was absolutely perfect and simple as can be. Pear, sugar and vanilla bean make a delicious combination inside these beautiful pies.

But the thing that brings it all together is the custard. I am a sucker for tea flavours in dessert and this was no exception. I infused the milk and cream with T2 Crème Brulee tea leaves, and then followed the remainder of the recipe (while burning my hand and almost curdling my custard). The original recipe actually included pouring some custard into the hole and baking it for a further 5 minutes, but I didn’t bother with this step, and served the custard on the side.

All of the lucky taste testers absolutely loved them. Denea had one for breakfast, and my sister’s boyfriend (who astoundingly had never tried a sweet pie before in his life) was also a huge fan. I know I’ll definitely be making these again before the winter is over.

Thanks (again) to Impact Communications for the beautiful pears

Pear Pies with Tea-Infused Custard
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Serves 6

Pie Filling
• 6 ripe pears
• 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Vanilla Pastry
• 450g (3 cups) plain flour
• 120g pure icing sugar, sifted
• 225g cold butter, coarsely chopped
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tea-infused custard
• 150ml pouring cream
• 300ml milk
• 3 teaspoons black tea leaves (I used T2 Crème Brulee tea leaves)
• 4 egg yolks
• 85g caster sugar

• For dusting: raw sugar

To make the pastry, combine flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 3-4 tablespoons iced water and vanilla extract and pulse until mixture just combines. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Peel pears, cut into eighths, removing cores. Place in a bowl with sugar and vanilla seeds and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on an oven tray and roast, turning occasionally for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden and tender. Allow to cool.

To make the custard, combine cream, milk and tea leaves in a medium saucepan and bring just to the boil over medium heat. Allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes and then bring back to boiling point. Let stand for 5 minutes. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Strain the cream mixture over the eggs and whisk to combine. Return mixture to the pan, stir over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then strain and cool over ice.

To assemble pies, roll two-thirds of the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick and use to line 6 buttered 9.5cm diameter pie pans. The pastry is very delicate and tears easily. Fill evently with cooled pear mixture. Roll out remaining pastry to 3mm thick and use a 12cm round cutter to cut out 6 circles, then using a 1.5cm cutter, cut a circle from the center of each. Place a pastry round over each pie, press to seal, trim edges, brush tops with water, scatter with raw sugar. Bake pies at 180°C (350°F) for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with custard.

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