Tuesday, January 6, 2009

{TWD} French Pear Tart, a two part experiment

It's my suspicion that every one of the 370-odd Tuesdays With Dorie bakers were excited to try this week's recipe. The French Pear Tart was chosen by Dorie Greenspan, who's making a special appearance to bake with with us this week in honor of the first anniversary of the TWD baking group. You can find the recipe on Dorie's blog entry, or on page 368-369 of Dorie's book Baking From My Home to Yours.

What I liked about this choice is that it is wintry (pears!) and festive (so pretty!) and warm (and buttery!) yet light enough to follow a substantial holiday meal. I baked this twice for dinner parties over the Christmas holiday - once with a secret weapon ingredient, and once without - and have posted both below. My husband graciously agreed to guest post his verdict of both versions!

cook's notes:

- I had no idea what this was supposed to look like (fan the pears, how?) so I googled "Dorie Greenspan French Pear Tart" and found some blog posts with great pictures. Dorie's directions described it perfectly, but I just couldn't visualize this one without a picture...

- The recipe calls for a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. My tart pans are as follows: 10", 9.5", 8" and a 7.75" , but nary a 9". I spent a few minutes consulting my favorite online circle calculator and figured that if I doubled the crust recipe I could have enough for an 8" tart (40% of a double recipe) and a 10" tart (60% of a double recipe). I pressed the dough into both pans and froze the larger one unbaked for later, and made the 8" tart first
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Pilot (8") tart-

- I baked one pear tart last weekend, with the 8″ pan, making 80% of the almond cream recipe. That works out to 70 grams of butter, 104 grams of sugar, 62 grams of ground almonds, 1 1/2 tsp flour, 3/4 tsp cornstarch, 48 grams of egg (I used egg substitute), [and 1 1/2 tsp rum or 3/4 tsp vanilla] This was the perfect amount of filling for the tart.

- I could have saved myself a good deal of calculations had I just decided to make a full recipe and use the leftover crust and filling for a mini!

- As part of my Christmas purchases (for myself!) I ordered some cool-sounding flavorings from King Arthur, and thought I'd use one for the tart instead of the vanilla or the rum. It came down to a choice between "Buttered Rum" and "Amaretto" and I chose Buttered Rum. I wasn't sure how much to use, so measured out 1/2 tsp. As soon as I poured it into the almond cream, I had that sinking realization that I'd used too much (I should have added one or two drops, then checked the flavor). The almond cream filling smelled - and tasted - pretty strongly of boozy extract flavoring. I wasn't going to start over, so I crossed my fingers that it would bake off in the oven. (You know where this is going, right?)

- The almond cream was a little thick, and I didn't see the instruction about leveling it. Nor did I see the part about rubbing fresh pears with lemon juice. (I was in a hurry when I was baking this.)

- Two pears are all that fit in the 8" tart shell. My pears were very ripe but still firm enough to use. I used them fresh, and they did start to "tarnish" just as soon as I cut them, so I popped the tart into the oven the minute I had it assembled.

See those sliced almonds? Look at the finished tart (above, on the cake stand) to see where they ended up!
- I debated whether to glaze the tart or to dust it with powdered sugar, but in the end I forgot to do either. It still was really pretty.

- I baked the 8" tart about 46 or 48 minutes, but wish I'd baked it just a few minutes longer. It could have been just a little bit more set in the center.

the verdict on the Pilot Tart:
Here's a guest verdict written by my husband:

"French Pear Tart (Pilot): Nancy made this last week. The taste was sensational at first. Then a sharp hydrazine/acetone-like sensation engulfed my taste receptors and nasal passages. How imaginative to flavor with nail polish remover. Actually the source turned out to be “Butter Rum Flavor” from a certain “LorAnn Oils.” I opened the bottle and what came out suggested the sort of rocket fuel that would make Werner Von Braun and his V-2 guided missile pals down at Peenem├╝nde blush with envy. The label says it contains “artificial flavor” and “propylene glycol” – the latter of which is antifreeze – must be the former is some kind of propellant. At least we won’t freeze up anytime soon; might put the rest in the Infiniti radiator to stave off winter, though, or in the gas tank if I need to get suborbital anytime soon. Caution: If you make FPT Pilot, do not consume around open flame."

Slice of the 8" tart laced with Butter Rum flavoring.
Looks
pretty innocent, right? Who would guess that it harbors deadly intentions?
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Rev. 2.0 (10") tart-

- About a week later I pulled the 10" tart shell out of the freezer and whipped up another pear tart. This time I steered clear of anything remotely resembling alcohol.

- For the 10" tart, I made 1.2x recipe for the filling. The amounts were: 103 grams butter, 156 grams sugar, 93 grams almonds, 2 1/2 tsp flour, 1 1/4 tsp cornstarch, 72 grams egg. I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract.

- This time the filling was thinner, and leveled itself nicely (although I was ready with an offset palette knife.)

- After finally reading Dorie's directions a bit more carefully, I rubbed my fresh pears with lemon juice which might helped keep the pear browning to a minimum. Given how very ripe these pears were, I don't think anything would have kept them from getting a bit brown. Three pears fit beautifully (these were Harry and David, fairly large pears).


- I don't have the technical skills or patience (or tools?) to fan my pears and lay them precisely on top of the pastry cream in the tart shell. Once more I prove that "rustic" is my only option!

- It was a breeze making the tart this time, so I'd recommend doubling the tart crust recipe and pressing it in a tart pan for the freezer - if you can spare the tart pan.

The 10" tart, just out of the oven.
the verdict on Rev. 2.0:
My husband, again:

"French Pear Tart (Rev. 2.0): Nancy took a second cut at the recipe, without rocket fuel, and we both agreed it might the best thing she has ever made, which is to say, as good as it gets."

I served this tart at our Book Club's Christmas Dinner celebration. It was still warm from the oven, and all 7 of the others happily enjoyed theirs with vanilla ice cream. I loved mine "nekkid". I wish I had a picture of it unmolded on the platter, with its dusting of powdered sugar. It was so pretty and made a huge hit with the book club.

The 10" tart after a few days, when I got near a camera, some daylight, and some dry weather. It was still delicious as leftovers!

66 comments:

Cathy said...

ROFL!!! I am going to have to call my husband down here to interpret some of the references in your guest review! I don't understand exactly what is in that Butter Rum flavor, but clearly if I keep a bottle of it with me at all times along with some rope and duct tape, I'll be ready for whatever life throws my way, just like MacGyver. Also, I started sweating reading all of those math calculations, Nancy -- I am so glad you said that I can just make one full-sized one and one mini instead! Your tarts look gorgeous. FPT (Rev 2.0) is truly a vision. I am so glad that it was loved by all!

pinkstripes said...

Oh my...my eyes are going googily-eyed over all the math in your post. And then guest-blogger husbands starts talking chemicals. wow. It's a little close to bedtime for me to understand it all (and I'm in the science/math field!).

Both tarts look amazing, even the rocket-fuel one. :P I'm glad you were able to make version 2 b/c it was absolutely wonderful.

What's for Supper? said...

Yours looks so nice. Thanks for the link to the picture this week. It really helped me figure out what I was going to do with mine!

Bria said...

Looks beautiful. I really want to make a full size tart next time.

Marie said...

Your tarts are lovely! I thought the idea of a buttered rum flavouring sounded so delicious until I read your husband's verdict. Then I just had to giggle. He's a real card! Glad that the second tart turned out well and much more to his taste. I have to agree, this tart was delicious, rocket fuel or not!

dorie said...

It's not easy leaving a comment when you're giggling and your eyes are tearing. Your husband's guest verdict on tart #1 was hysterically funny, although I don't know how funny I'd have thought it was if I'd done all the work to make that tart:) I guess it's now unnecessary -- and way too late -- for me to mention that you should never, never, never use artificial flavorings. Even if you'd gone with just a drop or two, I think you would have been disappointed. But your tarts look really beautiful and I'm so happy that you and your husband and friends enjoyed them.

Audrey said...

Your tarts are both beautiful, and as always I'm impressed by your thoughtful experimentation (and your lucky book club!) As for the husband, I'm sure he's a very lovely man, but I think he would enjoy some extra chili powder in his corn muffins next week. Shh, don't tell him. :)
Audrey

jillbert said...

The flavoring sure sounded like a good idea in theory! Perhaps you could put the rest of it in your gas tank? Glad that tart #2 turned out better. This was a delicious recipe!

Laura said...

Man, I wish I had made this!!! (sans butter rum flavored rocket fuel tho - good tip :-) Your tarts look beautiful.

ostwestwind said...

Both tarts look great, I agree, this tart must be loved by everyone

Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein

Jessica said...

Oh my goodness, your husband's review is so funny! I love it!
I don't know how you do all of those calculations. Please tell me that you have a cheat sheet. All I can do is cut something in half and then I'm done. 80% -- that's impossible! No, I'm very impressed with all of the math.
Sorry that the first one didn't work out; but, hey, where would we be without experiments? And without that experiment you wouldn't have such a funny experience for your hubby to describe.
The second tart looks sensational though. I can't wait to make this one again.

LyB said...

They're both beautiful! I just added a bit of rum to the almond cream and, since there already was butter, I guess I made buttered rum flavored pear tart too! Without the rocket-fuel after taste! lol! Funny post! :)

Peggy said...

You really worked so hard at this! And it paid off. They are both beautiful creations! Your math cracked me up. I'm definitely going to make this again soon!

CB said...

You crazy. I like math and thats just too much math for me! Love all the hubbie guests posts. So cute! That last picture is gorgeous. Glad you all enjoyed the tart!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

Nancy said...

Well, both tarts looked delicious...but hey, if you don't try something new, you never know, right? Now you know!! Your husband's comments are so funny. You should have him on as a guest blogger more often! LOL! But the comment about some extra chile powder in his muffins could have us rolling on the floor again next week!

Pam said...

Good for you for trying again - the second tart is stunning!

Jamie said...

This post was hilarious! I am so happy your second one turned out as beautiful as it did!

Maria said...

Great post!! You have me laughing! I think both tarts look wonderful!

Anne said...

I agree that this is tasty even after the first day! That's too funny about your flavoring mishap (although I'm sure it was just too frustrating at the time!) Thanks for the tip about the circle calculator. You sure need that with such a fabulous tart pan collection (yes, I'm jealous!) Great job completing the recipe, it looks amazing!

Jacque said...

How funny! Well, now we know not to add the butter rum flavoring.

They both look delish. And your last shot is magazine worthy.

Flourchild said...

Great looking tart! I love that you got yourself some wonderful flavorings for Christmas..how fun! I enjoyed this recipe but wish I would have saw the photo of the fanned out pears before completing mine. Oh well maybe next time I can get fancy!

Jodie said...

Great post. And great tarts!

Danielle said...

LOL, rocket fuel to funny!
I amglad you guys enjoyed the 2nd tart. It has been one of the best recipes so far from the book.

Katrina said...

They both look great! Sorry about the flavor on the first one.
I love how puffed up it gets. I went easy on the almond cream since I didn't use a pan and didn't want it going all over the place. Can't wait to make another one IN a pan with all the cream. So good!

Pamela said...

So...I'm guessing that I will just skip he butter rum flavoring when I make this one. Your DH did a great job on the guest post! And you did an amazing job on both tarts, Nancy! The 2nd one really looks fabulous, so I'm glad everyone enjoyed it so much.

chocolatechic said...

Yeah....I should have done the google thing.


I couldn't understand the fanning out part either, so I just didn't do it.

Yours looks fabulous.

Natashya said...

Your husband is hilarious!
I find artificial flavourings to be rather suspect as well.
Your second tart is perfectly fanned, So happy that it all turned out in the end.
Delish!

kim said...

LOL!! Aww sorry about the result of the "pilot" tart, but at least you got to test it out first and learn from your mistakes. Your second tart is just perfection!

leanne said...

You are so lucky to have both your husband and children blog with you. This was one amazing recipe. I second the suggestion about keeping a crust in the freezer.

HoneyB said...

hehe. I will stick to the spiced rum. ;)

Amanda said...

Looks gorgeous! like Cathy, math calculations start me sweating. I did a 1 1/2 recipe for an 11 inch tart pan, all I could scramble together in Italy. (One does just not "run out" on a tart pan hunt here!) My center didn't look quite done so I left it in, but should have removed it. The center firmed up upon cooling. It was amazing and glad you liked your two too!

juju73 said...

I simply LOVE reading your blog...and the tarts look AMAZING!

Megan said...

I broke out in a sweat looking at the math - yikes! I applaud you for being able to do that. (can you tell math isn't my strong suit?)

However, rocket fuel and antifreeze really don't have a place in baking so I seriously hope you sent that stuff back to King Arthur with a note saying you don't want to be embalmed before you are dead!

Madam Chow said...

I LOVED this post. I was laughing so hard at your husband's reviews! Version 2.0 looks amazing, and I think my husband also feels this is the best thing I've ever baked.

Mary Ann said...

I have to agree that this is the perfect dessert. They look beautiful. I like the look of the browned pears, rustic and lovely.

spike. said...

I'm glad 2.0 worked out well!

Jess said...

All your tarts look amazing - even the flammable one! I'm in awe of the math skills involved. I recently bought some eggnog extract from KA Flour, and now I'll have to go give it another sniff!

The Blonde Duck said...

Gorgeous tarts. I love the scientific way you analyze and disect everything for us.

I probably would have eaten it before the camera clicked!

Marthe said...

Hahahaha, rocket fuel tart??? That must be a great new flavour!! It looked perfect though!

Amy said...

LOL!! Your hubby is too funny!! I'm glad the second try turned out better - it looks devine!!

-Amy
www.singforyoursupperblog.com

rainbowbrown said...

Nice guest spots. I'm so glad you gave up the rocket fuel and made a hit for the party.

Gabe's Girl said...

Happy New Year! Each tart looks wonderful! Thanks for writing such a wonderful post.

karen said...

i wasn't sure either until i saw a picture, but you're right, she did describe it perfectly. lol at the guest post from your husband.

Judy said...

By Rev 3.0, you'll be a pear-fanning expert. What a great story to accompany the tart.

Jaime said...

i love your story!!! rocket fuel, LOL!! that is too funny. well both turned out beautifully. with my smaller versions i glazed one with passionfruit jelly and the other one i forgot - you can tell the difference in my photos! clearly the glazed one looked better.

thanks for the tip about freezing the almond meal - i'm going to have to do that.

Kayte said...

You are so amazing...making all these little experiments and doing double takes on it all, etc. I so want to be you when I grow up! Both look amazing...I think you have a hit over there...either flavor and design! Great job. Fun post, as always! Thanks for your lovely wishes on my blog...you are such a sweetheart...they have made my days!

♥Reeni said...

They both look beautiful! I'm so sorry about your experience with the butter rum. I did have to smile a bit at your husband's review. How neat that Dorie picked this out herself!

Liz said...

Ha! Your husband is hilarious. So sorry to hear about your brush with antifreeze--those flavoring oils are STRONG. I usually use less than 1/2 of what I would use in extracts. But the good news is, your second tart looks AWESOME, and the pear slices look amazing!

Carol Peterman said...

Who knew an innocent little half teaspoon of flavoring could wreak such havoc on a helpless little tart. Well, now if your family doesn't behave you can threaten to flavor their cakes with jet fuel!

natalia said...

Dear Nancy, ciao ! I loved so much your husband's verdict !! both tarts were very beautiful !! baci

Tracey said...

Your tarts look gorgeous! I'm jealous that your husband will taste test fruity desserts. I can't get mine anywhere near them!

bakingwiththeboys said...

1) I had never heard of a circle calculator until reading your comment on the P & Q. impressive. 2) Your husband is a crack-up! 3) as someone who knows from rustic, your tarts are gorgeous.

Fit Chick said...

Beautiful tart and I will definately be making it after your review!

Kristin said...

"Rocket-fuel version" - too funny! Maybe it is a NASA-approved additive? I think your pear-fanning skills are great. I too needed to see other's before figuring out how to fan it nicely. This recipe should have had a picture in the book.

TeaLady said...

Rocket fuel. Funny Hubby!!! Glad it finally worked out. Love the almond garnish. It looks great.

Matt said...

Your husband's review made me laugh. How brutally honest!

I love the artistic way you garnished the second tart with the almond slices. A nice touch!

Jules Someone said...

Your second tart is gorgeous! The first one is pretty but also apparently deadly. I can't believe you did all those calculations! Nice work on both tarts. Thanks for your information!

Cakelaw said...

What a gorgeous tart. You were the smart one, googling how it was supposed to look.

Piggy said...

I admire your effort in doing all the math! I'm the impatient type of person, what i usually do with leftover crust dough is to cut them into small squares and make it into cookies. :-D

Great looking pear tart, the 10-inch one looks really yummy and the pear slices were perfectly fanned out!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

gorgeous, and perfect for christmas festivities! that circle calculator is cool!

AmyRuth said...

My husband would love your tanked up rocket fuel tart with his ("really") Rocket Fuel coffee he drinks. he he Seriously, Nancy, all that math? Dear me...guess I'm just an eye-baller kinda girl. he he Very detailed post and I thank you for taking us little bakers to the next level. I've enjoyed reading about your calculator lately. Which is really good to know about when I have a baking project for "friends" and I need to increase or decrease the numbers. Thanks for that. Lovely post and very pretty tarts.
AmyRuth

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Gosh, you have been so energetic, making a pilot and a finale. I just love your work - the pears look beautiful fanned out and the tarts are so beautifully formed.

dharmagirl said...

Oh my, I'm laughing so hard at your husband's assessment of the first tart. Too funny.

Your tarts are gorgeous, and, as always, I appreciate your technical savvy--I'm checking out this online circle calculator!

James said...

Wow Nancy, your tarts look incredible! Too bad about the rocket-fuel version. It confirms for me what I've believed for a while: avoid artificial.

As usual, you've done great!

Di said...

The tarts look lovely. I like how you used the sliced almonds to garnish them. Hopefully your other flavorings won't be as scary as the butter rum. =)

Jessica said...

Hey, Miss Nancy. I was just about to click and purchase the butter rum extract from KA because it seems like a lot of recipes that I've been reading lately call for rum extract. Anyway, I thought, I think that this might be the extract that created all of the problems with the pear tart and I checked your post and, sure enough, it was the Butter Rum extract! I was wondering, did you ever summon the courage to try it again? I don't think I'll purchase it because I'm pretty sure you'd have mentioned it on your blog at some point if you'd had success with it. Thanks! Jessica