For a rough puff pastry:
- 250g plain flour, sifted
- 1t salt n 250g cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 150ml ice-cold water
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and add the butter. Using a palette knife or a blunt-nosed knife, rub the butter into the flour using a cutting motion. Try to coat as much of the butter in flour as possible, although you will still see some chunks. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and gradually add about two thirds of the water, mixing it in with the knife as you go. Add enough of the remaining water to the mixture to form a dough – the pastry should come away neatly from the sides of the bowl without leaving too much excess flour or butter. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Tip the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out in one direction to form a rectangle. The pastry will be streaked with butter. Fold the top and bottom quarters of the rectangle so that the edges meet in the middle, then fold the top half over again – this is called a book fold. Give the pastry a quarter turn to the right and roll it out again, in one direction, to form a rectangle. Repeat the book-fold process. Make a small indentation at the top of the rectangle, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
For the filling:
- 6 firm pears
- 100g caster sugar
- 60g butter, diced
- 3T sherry vinegar
- 40g chopped walnuts
- 1t finely grated lemon zest
- 2T butter, melted
- 75g blue cheese
Peel, halve and core the pears, and refrigerate uncovered overnight to dry them out a little. (Ignore any oxidation – the caramel will disguise any fruit that goes brown.)
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat the sugar in a non-stick pan over a gentle heat, swirling occasionally but without stirring, until it turns a pale golden colour. Increase the heat slightly and add the butter and vinegar. Continue to cook until the mixture darkens a little. Pour the caramel into a 21cm Tatin dish, oven-proof frying pan or cake tin and sprinkle the walnuts on top. Pack the pear halves, cut-side up, as tightly as possible in the dish and sprinkle the lemon zest on top.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to form a rectangle larger than the dish containing the pears. Using a sharp knife, cut a disc out of the pastry big enough to overlap the edges of the dish slightly. Carefully cover the fruit with the pastry, tucking it in around the edges, and make two small incisions for any steam to escape. Brush lightly with the melted butter and bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes before carefully inverting it onto a plate. Crumble the cheese over the pears and serve with fresh rocket and a home-made vinaigrette.
Serves 6 t o 8
This recipe originally featured in the July 2013 issue of House and Leisure.