Wednesday, 28 November 2012


This recipe takes inspiration from a lot of things I learnt/made on the food writing course I went on it September. First off, it’s basically a sweet version of a puff pastry quiche tart we made for the vegetarians on a night when my team made traditional steak and ale pie for tea. Back then I was taught to make proper puff pastry, here I’m opting for rough puff, mainly for time but also for the thickness of the pastry. I won’t judge if you’d prefer to buy puff though to make this recipe even quicker, or if you want to make proper puff, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something massive if you do. When I was at Arvon, the lady who taught me to make puff pastry also introduced me to Barbados cream. It’s a mixture of lightly whipped double cream and Greek yogurt, which seems pretty normal, until it’s topped with Demerara sugar. Then something weird happens. Over a short period of time in the fridge, the sugar seems to melt almost and you get a marbled affect of a sweet liquid running through the cream. Don’t ask me how it happens, I haven’t got a clue. I just know it’s cool. You have to use a golden unrefined or brown sugar for it though, which I always use anyway. Funnily enough, the sugar I use is actually called ‘Barbados sugar’ and I buy it for 50p a bag at my local home bargains (seriously). Anyway, I put all of these things together, including the fact we also made poached pears on my cooking night, and created my Brandy Pear tart with Brandy spiked Barbados cream.

For the rough puff pastry
250g plain flour
Pinch of salt
250g cold butter 
100ml cold water
1 tsp icing sugar

For the filling 
Around 5-6 pears
4 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
A generous shot of Brandy

For the Barbados Cream 
150ml double cream
200g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp Brandy
2 tbsp unrefined golden sugar

Mix flour and salt in a bowl then add the butter in rough little chunks, nothing too precise because you want the odd larger piece in the pastry to give the puff. Roughly rub the butter into the flour, until a mixture which resembles part breadcrumbs part flour-coated butter chunks is formed. Make a well in the centre and add the water. Mix in with a cold knife until you get a dough. Transfer onto a piece of cling film then shape into a ball with this. Leave to cool in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once cooled, leave the dough to warm for about 5 minutes then roll out on the cling-film (good, mess reducing tip), mainly lengthways until tripled in size. You’ll need lots of flour at the ready because the exposed butter in the pastry sticks a lot. Imagine the dough in thirds and fold the first one over the middle, and the remaining one over this. Do a quarter turn so that the layers are facing you (these are called book ends and you should always roll in this way) then roll out in one, long ways direction until tripled in size (mainly length) again. Fold as before, wrap in the cling film then leave to cool again for at least 30 minutes. I knocked this out the night before, with emphasis on rough, so it cooled over night.

Preheat oven 200fan/200c/7
Line a rectangle baking tray and roll out the pastry to fit this. Transfer onto tray and fold over then pinch the edges to makes the walls of the tart. Prick the base then dust all over with icing sugar. Bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.

In the meantime peal the pears and slice in half. Remove the tougher flesh from the centre with a teaspoon and if possible, cut the halved pears in half again. You might want to poach the pears in some sugar and water for 5 minutes to soften, depending on whether you want a crunch or not. Beat the eggs and milk together with the sugar then add the generous slosh of brandy.

When the tart base has baked, arrange the pears on top and pour around with the egg mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until the egg-like custard is firmly set and the pears are just starting to brown.

Whilst the tart is baking, make the Barbados cream by whipping the double cream until it just begins to leave a ripple then add the Greek yoghurt and Brandy, mixing these in well. Sprinkle the unrefined sugar on top of the cream and leave in fridge until the magic happens, when the sugar seems to melts. When the tart is baked, leave to cool for 10 minutes or so before dusting with icing sugar and serving with the sugar mottled Barbados cream.

The sugar on the cream goes darker and melts more the longer you leave it, or if you use brown sugar because of the molasses in it. I'm highly impatient and couldn't wait to take the picture and that's why it looks quite light.

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