By and large I cannot be bothered with pastry. It's all to do with the rolling out really. The flour that goes everywhere. The dough that does not spread in a perfect circle, or any sort of circle at all. So I was excited to come across this recipe for a tart in which the pastry is just pressed with your fingers into the tin, baked for a bit, then packed with pear slices and a filling of butter, sugar and eggs that transforms in the oven into a silky, sweet custard. In many ways it's like the winter equivalent of Nora Ephron's peach pie - easy to make, even easier to eat. I took a couple of slices on a walk last weekend with my cousin, where they were enjoyed with a view of the harbour... as well as by the kookaburra who swooped and snaffled the last bite.
Recipe adapted from Family by Hetty McKinnon via The Design Files
There are a million types of pears and I would guess this would work well with any. The original recipe calls for the fruit to be peeled but I didn't bother. My laziness paid off - I think that extra bit of texture is delicious.
1-2 pears, finely sliced
300g (2 cups) plain flour
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
230g (1 cup) caster sugar
85g unsalted butter, melted
2-3 pears, peeled and finely sliced
If preparing pears beforehand, make sure you keep them in water, with a squeeze of lemon juice added, to stop them from oxidising and turning brown.
Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin with a bit of melted butter.
For the crust, place the flour and butter in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it is the consistency of sand. Add the salt and cinnamon and mix well, then add the egg and mix with your hands until the dough comes together. Press the dough into the base and side of the tart tin, place in the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes until lightly golden. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.
For the filling, whisk together the sugar and eggs until combined. Mix in the butter, then fold in the peeled and slice pears. Pour into the tart shell and arrange the unpeeled sliced pears on top. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until golden and firm. Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool for about 30 minutes.