The Complete Aga Cookbook by Mary Berry and Lucy Young is out now.
Images are © Georgia Glynn Smith
- For the pastry:
- 100g butter, cut into cubes
- 225g plain flour
- 25g icing sugar, sieved
- 1 egg, beaten
- For the filling:
- 175g soft butter
- 175g caster sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 175g ground almonds
- 40g plain flour
- 1tsp almond extract
- 6–8 ripe Williams pears, peeled, cored and halved
- For decoration:
- apricot jam, melted and sieved, for glaze
- 25g flaked almonds, toasted
If making the pastry by hand, rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the beaten egg and bring together to form a dough. If making in a processor, combine the butter, flour and icing sugar in the bowl then process until the mixture resembles ground almonds. Pour in the beaten egg and pulse the blade until the dough starts to form a ball around the central stem. Form the pastry into a smooth flat cake, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes or until manageable.
Make the filling in the unwashed processor. Cream the butter and sugar together, then gradually add the beaten eggs (do not worry if it looks curdled at this stage). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract. Process for a few seconds until well incorporated. Leave this mixture in the fridge until required.
Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured work surface and line a flan tin 28cm in diameter, about 2.5cm deep. If possible, chill for a further 30 minutes.
Spoon the frangipane mixture into the pastry case and level the top using a small palette knife. Arrange the pear halves, cut side down, attractively on the filling. Be sure to leave enough room between them to allow the frangipane mixture to rise.
Preheat the oven to 190C, gas 5 and put a heavy flat baking tray into the oven to preheat. Place the tart on the tray and bake for about 45–50 minutes until the almond filling and pastry are golden brown.
OR to bake in an Aga, lift the tin on to a baking sheet and bake on the floor of the roasting oven until pale golden, about 15-20 minutes. Then transfer to the centre of the Baking Oven until set and golden brown, another 15–20 minutes. In a two-oven Aga, lift the tin onto a baking sheet and bake on the floor of the roasting oven for 15–20 minutes until pale golden. After this time, put the cold plain shelf on the second set of runners and continue to bake for a further 15–20 minutes until the almond filling is set and golden brown. If the pastry is becoming too dark, place a ring of foil around the edge.
Cool slightly, brush with hot apricot glaze and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds. Serve warm with cream or crème fraîche.
If time is short, use 500g bought shortcrust pastry. The pastry-lined flan tin can be kept, covered with clingfilm, in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Filled with the frangipane mixture it can be kept for about 1 hour, covered and refrigerated. Alternatively, complete the tart to the end of step 5, cool, wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.