Mary Berry's pear frangipane tart is a perfect crowd-pleaser and once you master how to make it you'll find yourself returning to this recipe time and time again.
When it comes to brilliant dinner party desserts, we look for two key factors - they must be big enough to serve a group and ideally they can be made ahead to give you more time to spend with your guests.
This Mary Berry recipe does both and is a fantastic choice for both dinner parties and if you're looking for lunch ideas for entertaining friends.
To make this recipe ahead of time, simply pop the pastry-lined flan tin, covered with clingfilm, in the fridge for up to 24 hours before you plan to fill it. The filled tin with the frangipane mixture it can be kept for about 1 hour when covered and refrigerated, allowing you to get it out of the fridge and pop in the oven just before you sit down to enjoy your main course.
Alternatively, you can also complete the tart to the end of step 5, cool it, wrap it and then freeze it for up to 1 month, making it the ultimate ready-made dessert recipe.
To make this recipe simpler, you can use 500g shop-bought shortcrust pastry instead of making it - meaning you can jump straight to step 2 of the method.
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
- 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 and 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.
Jane Curran is a freelance food editor, stylist, writer and consultant based in Cape Town. Former food director of TI Media & woman&home. All about food, wine (dipWSET), gardening and the Arsenal.
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