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Suggestions on a Pear Tart

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm pretty versatile when it comes to cooking, but baking is what I have the least experience with. I made some decent cheddar buttermilk biscuits once, and I make a good cheesecake, but I've never made a pie or a tart before. My fathers property has an asian pear tree (hard pears) and this time of year the pears are getting ripe. We have lots of them so I wanted to turn them into something that I can share with some friends.

 

For you expert tart makers, do you have any pointers for me? Any little secrets to incorporate? I have the book "Joy of Cooking" which has lots of info on pie crust recipes, etc. and they suggest pre-baking the tart crust fully, they say it surprisingly does not burn after being baked twice and it ensures a flaky golden crust. What say you? Glaze? Batter? etc?

 

I'm just waiting for a little cooler weather before I tackle this, but I will post pictures as soon as I make one!

post #2 of 12

I'm like you, generally inexperienced baking. Which translates, among other things, as an almost total inability to roll out a pie dough properly.

 

So, my recomendation is, think about making rustic tarts at first. For them, you roll out the dough as best you can (in my case that means some sort of amebic shape), put the filling on top, then folding the edges to form the sides.

 

Prebaking is called "blind baking." Whether to do so, in my limited experience, seems to depend more on the filling than anything else. For fillings which themselves require long baking, and which do not produce a lot of liquid, blind baking seems unnecessary. For fillings that are relatively wet (and, thus, can cause a soggy bottom crust), or which require very little baking, blind baking the crust makes sense.

 

For blind baking, however, it's best to both prick the bottom crust with a fork (there's a name for that, which I forget), and to use pie weights to keep the crust from bubbling up.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 12

Docking.  It's called docking. 

 

The free form tart KY described is called a galette.  Confusingly, not all galettes are tarts.  A galette is not a bad idea to get started.

 

If you're using a fluted tart tin, save enough dough to make a little ball; and use the ball to press the dough into the fluting on the side.  If you're buying a tart tin, buy one with a false bottom.

 

Break your fat (lard, butter, vegetable shortening, whatever) into small pieces and freeze them before cutting in.

 

When you cut the fat into the dough, don't cut it in too fine.  People often use "cornmeal" as a metaphor, but that's too fine.  Pea sized lumps is fine. 

 

Keep everything as cold as possible as long as possible.  Cold fat is one of the secrets to a flaky crust.  Not cutting it in too fine, is the other.

 

Use only very cold liquid to make the crust.  Refrigerate well after bringing the dough together.   

 

Lard (if you can get your hands on good, clean, lard) makes for flakier crusts, butter tastes better, half and half is good too, Old Crisco, if you can find it, is neither here nor there, New Crisco With 0 Transfat! is better avoided.

 

Keep the fat very cold from cutting up until you roll out.  Cold fat stays in lumps instead of working in, and lumps of fat rolled flat but not worked in make flakey pastry.  In case you wondered. 

 

Some things that will help you (and KY) roll level, geometrically acceptable crusts: 

  • Roll out from the center, not from the edges;
  • Use a straight French pin.  It won't work as fast as one of the ball-bearing jobs with handles, but will give you a better feel for lumps;
  • Turn the dough frequently as you roll, it will help you control the shape;
  • To change the shape, don't press harder, roll more frequently from the center all the way out to the short sides; 
  • Don't try to roll out too thin or the crust will become tough;
  • Don't be afraid to use a knife to trim; and
  • Don't worry about using every scrap, if you waste 11 cents worth of crust empires will not tumble.

 

Glaze with melted clear apricot or apple jelly  (not jam, not preserves) depending on what color you want the top to have.  You can egg wash the top of the crust if you like.

 

Pears bake fast, shed juice like crazy, and discolor easily.  Are you sure you want an actual baked tart rather than an assemblage using poached pears?  Just askin', boss.

 

Batter?  What batter?

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/9/10 at 11:57am
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks very much KY and BDL.. as for the batter.. I was not intentionally seeking out but just before a nap yesterday Paula Dean was making a tart. It was a peach tart and she mixed 3 egg yolks, with sugar, and a stick of butter to create some form of creamy batter. I had no idea whether that was common or not, so I threw in the "batter" comment. BDL you've gone and scared me about the pear releasing water, although I want to make sure you are aware of the type of pear I have on my tree. They are hard as a rock, and don't have a lot of moisture in them. You can eat one raw, but I find them about twice as hard as an apple and the grainy texture isn't real appealing, this is what they look like:

 

asian pear

 

I'll do my best to keep everything cold. I think I'd like to do the half and half, I read that you can do that and get the nice flavor of the butter and still have the benefits of the cold lard to make the dough flaky. I think those are also the secrets to great buttermilk biscuits!

post #5 of 12


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

 

Some things that will help you (and KY) roll level, geometrically acceptable crusts: 

  • Roll out from the center, not from the edges;
  • Use a straight French pin.  It won't work as fast as one of the ball-bearing jobs with handles, but will give you a better feel for lumps;
  • Turn the dough frequently as you roll, it will help you control the shape;
  • To change the shape, don't press harder, roll more frequently from the center all the way out to the short sides; 
  • Don't try to roll out too thin or the crust will become tough;
  • Don't be afraid to use a knife to trim; and
  • Don't worry about using every scrap, if you waste 11 cents worth of crust empires will not tumble.

 

Ok, ky and eastshores, listen up!  I have some other tips to add to BDL's for the doughly challenged:

 

  • I never bother to refrigerate the dough unless it's really hot. It tends to make it hard and so harder to roll.  But if you do, beat it first with the rolling pin to soften it.

 

  • I flatten the dough by hand first but leave the edges thicker (a little concave in the center)  - that way when you roll it the edges will be able to stretch - otherwise they will crack  (Think about it, the dough has to stretch much more at the edges than in the center because the circle is bigger around the edge, so you need more dough there)

 

  • If you're in doubt about your ability to roll out, use parchment paper, lightly floured.  Put the dough between two sheets of it.  If it wrinkles, peel it off and re-lay it on the dough again.

 

  • BEGIN IN THE CENTER and roll the dough away from you UNTIL 1 INCH FROM THE EDGE- always stop a little before the edge, that way you will have pushed a pile of dough near the edge and it won;t crack.
  • TURN the dough 1/6 of a turn. Repeat and roll FROM THE CENTER to 1 INCH FROM THE EDGE - turn again, and continue around the circle.  This should give you a nice round piecrust. DON'T roll back and forth, always use this pattern

 

  • Remove the top sheet of paper, lift the dough attached to the bottom sheet and transfer to the pie tin. 

 

I believe this was in julia child but perhaps not, maybe in time life, i don;t know.  But it works perfectly every time. 

 

Another detail. You can measure all you want and precisely as you want, but the butter and the flour may be different each time, and you may need more or less water.  You should make the dough, form it into a ball, and then TRY TO BREAK THE BALL OPEN.  If it crumbles when you do, then you need to crumble it all and wet your hand in cold water and sprinkle it all over the dough.  Then toss it and press it together, till when you try to break it it offers resistance and holds together.  Don't "work" the dough or you;ll ruin it and make it tough.  But you can crumble and toss without adverse effects. 

 

Good luck

 

For hard pears, you might want to try making jam.  I did once and it was wonderful.  Hard fruit is perfect, it has lots of natural pectin. 



I'd think for a tart, pastry cream  and cooked (slightly caramelized) pears with sugar would be a nice combination, some vanilla perhaps. 

 

Or a tarte tatin of pears??

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks! I hadn't really thought over the idea of cooking the pears yet but that seems like it would make a lot of sense! If I were to saute them in a little butter, and maybe just a bit of brown sugar, a dash of nutmeg and vanilla? Hrmm now I'm kind of excited, the possibilities for a tart could be endless. Thanks for all of the help so far, I am looking forward to it.

post #7 of 12

Eastshores, I think BDL missed the fact that you have Asian pears.

 

Personally, I would cook them first because they otherwise take two days longer than forever to soften. Poach them in whatever liquid you like (simple syrup is fine, or maybe some orange liquor flavoring. Blind bake the tart shell, then assemble as he suggests. With the pears I'd use apple jelly as the glaze. You'll want to either thicken the poaching liquid, or make some sort of dessert cream (much preferred).

 

To prevent soggy crust, melt some chocolate and brush the crust with it. Then add your cream. Top with the pear slices, arranged artistically. Then melt the apple jelly over low heat and brush it over the top, coating any exposed cream as well as the pears and the edge of the tart shell.

 

Ya see, I know how this stuff is supposed to work.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 12

Yes, cook first.  I'd poach in Riesling, but the world -- as they say -- is your ersker.

 

Sealing the crust with chocolate would work.  Baking on a little egg white or egg eash works too, but chocolate and pears is a good combination, unless you're planning on hitting vanilla and rum or brandy really hard; and even then, unless you wanted to keep things simple, chocolate would be great.

 

Pate sucree galette, sealed with a coat of dark chocolate, mounded with thin sliced poached pears, caramel drizzled on top, powdered sugar overall, served with creme anglaisel... Yeah, it could work.

 

BDL

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

You two have a sweet tooth I can tell! I am really wanting to feature the pears, since they are from my land. So I want to concentrate on a perfect crust. I think I will go with the poaching suggestion. I don't like overly sweet deserts. Any suggestions on a good Riesling for the purpose of poaching the pears? KY is the cream the same basic concoction that Paula Dean made? Egg, sugar, and butter? That's kind of like a butter cream frosting right? Sheesh I know so little about this stuff... I'm afraid at some point I'm going to flip the tart around in a saute pan and throw garlic on it!

post #10 of 12

Actually, Eastshores, I don't have a particular sweet tooth. Which is why I'm not very good at this stuff---I haven't done a lot of it. And, as with everything else, once you learn the techniques the rest comes with practice.

 

I don't know what Paula Deen does, but that sounds like a cake icing. That doesn't work as a pie/tart filling. We're talking about pastry creams.

 

There are many cream-style fillings used in pastry making, ranging from a basic pastry cream, to sabayon. Just think in terms of what you'd use to fill cream puffs or eclairs, or to build Napoleons, for the right idea.

 

My favorite, for fruit tarts, is a mascarpone filling:

 

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

 

Mix the mascarpone with the honey, lemon juice, and vanilla.

 

Whip the cream until it holds medium peaks.

 

Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Spread the filling in a cooled (assuming blind baked) tart shell, spreading evenly. Cover the filling with the fruit---in your case, the sliced, poached pears.

 

This makes enough to fill an 8-10 inch tart, so should work with just about any tart pan you have.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 12

Any suggestions on a good Riesling for the purpose of poaching the pears?

 

Assume you are going to enjoy the rest of the wine with the tart.

 

If it's good enough to drink, it's the right one for poaching the pears. If it's not, it's not.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Siduri, I wanted to thank you for your input as well. I do think I will try to make some preserves/jam from some of them. I have some jars and lids, I need those little grabbers with the rubber grips for the cans though.. last time I made hot processed pickles it was quite an ordeal trying to remove the jars.  HOT HOT HOT

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