A lot on her plate

Rosie Birkett thinks the best dishes all start with the best ingredients – and her new cookbook is evidence of that.

A Lot on Her Plate is packed full of meal ideas made from top produce – and we have one here for you to try here in this extract. For more see the Apr/May 2015 issue of homestyle

Maple glazed pear and hazelnut tart

Serves 4-6

2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
⅓ cup ground almonds
Pinch of salt
180g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp demerara
(raw) sugar, for sprinkling

160g skinned, roasted hazelnuts, plus a few extra, halved, for garnish
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
½ cup golden caster (superfine) sugar
¼ cup plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
Nutmeg, for grating
80g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 firm pears
Maple syrup, for glazing

Special equipment
24cm pie dish and pastry brush

For the pastry, put the sugar, flour, ground almonds, salt and butter in a food processor, and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor still running, add about 3 tablespoons of the beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water, and pulse until the mixture starts to clump together into a dough. You need to be cautious at this stage as you don’t want sticky pastry. Add a little more water if necessary.

Remove the dough from the food processor, divide into two, flatten each portion into discs, wrap each disc in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least
1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease the pie dish. Remove a disc of pastry from the fridge, unwrap it and roll it out on a generously floured work surface to 3mm thick and about 2cm wider than the pie dish. Transfer to a floured baking sheet and chill for about 10 minutes. Repeat this process with the remaining disc of pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the pie dish. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 3mm thickness and about 2cm wider than the pie dish. Using a floured rolling pin, carefully transfer it to the pie dish and drape it across the top. Let it sink into the dish, and, holding on to the edges, lift and tuck the pastry into the edges of the dish, all the way round, to line it. Trim off any excess pastry and lightly prick the base with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.

While the pastry is chilling, pulse the hazelnuts, the ginger and half the sugar in a food processor until finely ground, then add the flour and a good grating of nutmeg, and quickly pulse to combine.

Using a hand-held electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, remaining sugar and extracts until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Then gently stir through the nut mixture until it’s totally incorporated.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, line it with a piece of baking parchment and fill with baking beans. (Scrunch up the baking parchment before you line the dish and it will be more pliable and fit more snugly.)

Blind bake the pastry case for 10–15 minutes, until the edges are golden.

Remove the parchment and baking beans, and bake for a further 3 minutes, until the pastry is set and the base is golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then spread the nut filling evenly into the tart shell. Halve and core the pears, then slice them lengthways, holding the slices together to retain their pear shape.

Arrange 3 sliced pear halves on top of the filling, fanning the slices slightly and pressing them lightly into the filling. Scatter the halved hazelnuts around the pears, pressing them lightly into the filling. Bake for 30–40 minutes until the pears are golden and the frangipane is puffed and golden brown. When you remove it from the oven, use a pastry brush to brush the pears, but not the filling, with some maple syrup. Allow the tart to cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack, slice and serve warm, or allow to cool completely and chill.

Recipes Rosie Birkett     
Photography Helen Cathcart


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