Wholewheat Pear & Almond Tarts

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It’s been a while since we’ve made tarts and we started missing them this week for some odd reason. So we decided to make some with leftover ripe pears and ground almonds. We picked up this tart crust recipe at the culinary institute and it’s always been successful. We’ve used it for sweet and savoury tarts by just adjusting the amounts of sugar and salt and it’s become one of our go-to recipes now.

To keep your crust crisp, dice and keep the butter in the fridge until you need it. Work quickly to get the dough together- you don’t need to knead it, just bring it all together and let it harden and form up in the fridge during the resting period or your dough may turn out tough. Use only your fingertips to get the dough together , so you transfer less heat to the dough – the idea is to keep it as cold as possible.

If you are using this crust for a savoury recipe, just omit the sugar and add a generous pinch of salt instead.

Makes 4 9cm tarts

Ingredients 

Tart crust 

200g wholewheat flour

100g cold diced butter

20g caster sugar

1  egg beaten

2 tablespoons of ground almonds

1 egg beaten (for eggwash)

Baking beans or uncooked rice (for blind baking)

4 sheets of clingfilm , cut to squares about 10 cm by 10 cm

4 sheets of parchment paper, cut into squares 10 cm by 10 cm

Tart filling

7 medium ripe pears, peeled , cored and diced

50g butter

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsps apricot jam (or any jam you like)

Cinnamon stick

Method

Start with the crust. Place the flour & sugar in a bowl and combine. Using your finger tips, rub in the cubes of butter, sifting the flour and butter through your fingers. Try to work quickly and stop when you get a bread-crumby texture. 

Then add in the beaten egg and stir it through the beradcrumb mixture with a fork. Use your fingers to bring the dough together without kneading. Flatten it into a square (this will make it easier to roll out) and wrap tightly in clingwrap. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

While the dough is resting, make the filling. 

Place the pears, cinnamon stick, butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat.Allow the pears to cook until soft. Then stir in the jam. Continue to cook until it reaches the consistency you like – we like the pieces really soft but still holding their shape. Also ensure any water in the filling has evaporated before taking it off the heat and allowing it to cool. Add the ground almonds and stir through. You can put it in the fridge to help it cool faster. Pouring very hot or watery filling into the tart cases may cause the filling to seep through , so you want to make sure it’s cool enough. 

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into quarters. Roll out one of the quarters to a 1/8 inch thick circle on top of a sheet of clingfilm. Then sliding your hand under the clingfilm, lift up the rolled out circle and place it directly facedown on top of a tart mould. Remove the clingfilm and then push the dough down and into the bottom of the mould. There should be extra dough hanging over the sides of the mould. Then just use your fingers to push the dough down over the edges of the mould cutting it on the edges and removing the excess. 

Dock the dough by poking holes around the the base  of the tart case with a fork. You can use the fork to press down on the edges as well, to create a pattern. Then put it in back in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.Repeat with the other quarters. 

Meanwhile roll out the leftover dough to to top the tarts. You can use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and place these over the filling or go with the traditional lattice crust. Since we’re not sharing videos yet, take a look at this one to see how to create a lattice crust.

When the 20 minutes are up, take the tarts out of the fridge,egg wash the whole tart, place a square of parchment on the inside and fill the tart with the baking beans or rice. Blind bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes. Then take them out of the oven, remove the beans/rice and parchment and fill with the pears. Top with the shapes you’ve cut out or lattice crust , egg wash and bake again for another 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown. 

Dust with icing sugar before serving. 

x Anu & Suba

 

 

Persian Love Cake

persianlovecake2

Summer is here and roses are blooming everywhere and so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to put the flavour of roses in pretty much everything we are cooking these days. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our favourite rose inspired concoctions, both sweet & savoury, so do drop by if you feel like filling your kitchens with the scent of roses.

The first of our recipes is a Persian Love Cake. The story goes that this magical cake was first made by a Persian woman for a Prince she was in love with. And what’s not to love about this intently moist, sweet, rich almond cake with hints of rosewater, cardamom & lemon. This is hands down my favourite almond cake and a great one  to make for a party because it keeps well, is  yummy and looks impressive but is so easy to make. This recipe is from Yasmin Khan’s The Saffron Tales and I’ve never found the need to change anything  because I love it as it is, but replacing the lemons with oranges , using hazelnuts instead of pistachios or making little Persian love cupcakes (especially for Valentine’s Day) could be nice twists.

persianlovecake1

I’ve made this cake 2 days in advance and it has always tasted better that way. You could take the traditional route and make the lemon icing in this recipe or you could whip up some lemon cream , rose buttercream or even mix store-bought pistachio cream with freshly whipped cream to top this cake. The variations are endless . If you want to make a 2 layer cake like I have here, just remember to double the portions for the lemon icing so you can top each layer.Handle the cake with care when layering, it’s so soft that it cracks easy. 

Serves 8

Ingredients

The Cake

200 g unsalted butter

150 g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

12 cardamom pods

100 g plain flour, sifted

275 g ground almonds

1 unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon rose water

1 teaspoon baking powder

a generous pinch fine sea salt

The Syrup

2 tablespoon caster sugar

1/2 lemon, Juiced

1/2 tablespoon rose water

The icing

150 g icing sugar

3/4 lemon, Juiced

2 teaspoon cold water

To Decorate

2 teaspoons sliced pistachios or pistachio granules

2 teaspoons dried or fresh rose petals, roses or rosebuds

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 22 cm cake tin and line it with baking parchment.

Grind the whole cardamom pods in a pestle & mortar, discard the green shells and pound the little black seeds until they become a powder. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until just combined , don’t over-beat. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.

Add the cardamom seeds to the mixture. Then add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and rose water.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin , even out the top and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

Check the cake close to the end of the baking time by sticking a fork in the middle. It should come out clean. Place the cake on a  wire rack to cool.

While waiting for the cake to bake, make the syrup. Using a small pan over low heat, combine the caster sugar, rose water and lemon juice and stir until the sugar melts completely. While the cake is still warm, use a toothpick or fork to poke holes all over the top and then drizzle the syrup over the cake,making sure you cover the whole top of the cake.

Let the cake cool completely.

To make the icing combine the icing sugar, lemon juice and a 3-4 teaspoons of cold water  and stir well until the icing is smooth and thick. Make the icing just before you want to use it or it will harden. Spoon the icing over the cake and let it drip down the sides. Decorate with the roses and pistachio.

If you want to make a double layer cake, use a serrated knife or cake slicer to slice the cake. Spoon half the icing over the bottom layer, place the top layer over that with the top (rounded part of the cake) facing down ,

=[then spoon the rest of the icing over that. This video from ZoeBakes will explain how to do that better than I can with words.

x Anu & Suba