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Pear crostata

July 26, 2011

A fresh fruit salad might be the star on the dinner table in summer, but something a little more substantial is welcome in the winter. Crumbles and cobblers are popular and a fruit upside-down cake makes an attractive dessert. And there are always fruit pies.

Today’s recipe is for a free-form pie and pears are perfect for this crostata. The fruit is sliced and mixed with spice, sugar and flour. The flour thickens any juice coming out of the fruit so the pastry doesn’t turn soggy.

It’s worth mastering pâte brisée. This short buttery pastry is perfect for pies and is a breeze to make if you have a food processor. Make sure your butter is well chilled and that you use iced water to stick the pastry together.

This pastry is suitable for sweet or savoury dishes.

Pear Crostata

500g pâte brisée (see below) or bought short pastry
6-8 ripe pears
1/2 cup castor sugar
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
butter for cooking

First make your pastry.

Pâte Brisée

300g flour
1 teaspoon  salt
1 tablespoon castor sugar
200g unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 2.5 cm pieces
50-100ml iced water

Place the flour, salt, sugar and chopped butter in a food processor and lightly pulse till the mixture is like breadcrumbs.  Pour in half the water slowly through the feed tube until the dough just sticks together when pinched. Add more water if required but do not overprocess.

Turn the dough onto a work surface and bring it together. Halve the mixture and pat out into two discs. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

While the pastry is chilling, prepare your crostata filling. Peel the pears if you wish – or leave half of them unpeeled. Halve and core the pears and cut into thin slices. Place in a bowl and add the sugar, spice, flour, salt and dried cranberries. Turn the pear slices over and over until they are all coated with a little of the other ingredients.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and cut each disc into four. Roll out into eight circles about 18cm in diameter. Make sure there are no holes in the pastry for the filling to leak. Place the circles on baking paper on oven trays. Pile some of the filling into the centre of each circle, leaving about 3cm clear around the edges. Fold these edges over the filling. Brush with milk or egg white and sprinkle with castor sugar. Dot a little butter on the exposed filling. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200C and bake the tarts for 30-35 minutes until golden. Serve warm, sprinkled with icing sugar. Makes 8 servings.


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| ©2000-2013 Pat Churchill