Recipe: Spiced Pear Custard Tart with Cornmeal Pastry


Recipe by Zoi Condos for Prahran Cooking School

1rcpe Cornmeal Pastry (recipe follows)
1rcpe Spiced Custard (recipe follows)
1rcpe Poached Pears (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Divide the pastry in two. On a lightly floured bench roll out one half of the pastry to a thickness of approximately 3mm & line a 10inch flan tin with a removable base. Trim the edges of any excess pastry & blind bake (see instructions below). Allow to cool completely.

Fill the shell with custard & top with spiced pear halves.

Roll out the second piece of pastry to a 3mm thickness & drape over the filled tart. Firmly press down around the edges & crimp decoratively. Slash the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape, brush with egg wash & bake 50 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through & golden.

Remove from oven & set aside to cool completely before serving.

Method for blind baking
Line a tart case or ring with the pastry, pressing well into the base & sides. Chill the pastry shell for 1 hour or longer prior to baking.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place two layers of foil into the chilled pastry case. Fill the case with raw rice or beans, ensuring that you push the rice up along the sides to support the pastry walls.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, depending on the thickness & size of the case. Check that the base of the pastry is cooked before using the tart shell.

For the Cornmeal Pastry:
340g butter, softened
340g sugar
6 egg yolks
420g plain flour
150g polenta

NOTE: This dough has a beautiful crunch & colour from the addition of yellow cornmeal. It is quite fragile to work with but well worth the effort

In an electric mixer with the paddle, cream the butter & sugar until very light & fluffy. Add yolks one at a time.

Combine flour & polenta on the workbench. Make a large well in the centre & add the butter mixture. Gently fold in the flour mix, mixing only until combined.

Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for 1hour or until the dough is firm enough to roll.

For the Spiced Custards:
2 pears
5g butter
2Tbl maple sugar
1tsp lemon juice
1rcpe Crème Patisserie (recipe follows)

Peel, core & finely dice the pears. Melt the butter over high heat in a large fry pan. Add the pears & sauté 1 minute. Add the sugar & lemon juice & cook over high heat until the liquid evaporates & the pears are soft. Allow to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the crème patisserie until smooth then fold in the sautéed pears.

For the Crème Patisserie:
500ml milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
100g sugar
5 egg yolks
50g cornflour

Bring milk, spices & 100g sugar to a simmer. Set aside to infuse for 30 minutes then strain.

Combine the yolks & remaining sugar followed by the cornflour. Temper with a little hot milk. Whilst whisking the remaining milk, pour the tempered egg mix into the centre of the pan. Whisk continuously over medium heat until a thick custard is achieved. Remove from the pan & cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Allow to cool completely before using.

For the Poached Pears:
750ml red wine, good quality
400ml orange juice
500g sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
6 white peppercorns
4 pears, firm but ripe

Combine all the ingredients except the pears in a medium saucepan. Bring a boil & simmer until the sugar dissolves.

Peel & halve the pears then remove the core with a melon baller. Place them into the boiling liquid, cover with a piece of baking paper & weigh down with a plate to keep the pears submerged.

Cover & cook over a medium heat until the liquid comes back to a boil then turn off the heat & leave the pears in the hot liquid to cook all the way through. Remove from the liquid & refrigerate until cold.

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