JULIA’S Pear + Polenta tart (serves 8)
400ml medium-bodied Italian red wine such as Dolcetto, Nero d’Avola, Amarone or Nebbiolo
180g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips of lemon peel
5-6 firm beurre Bosc pears
180g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g fine polenta
80g caster sugar
zest of a lemon
pinch of sea salt
200g cold unsalted butter, cubed
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
3-4tbsp iced water
1 egg, for the egg wash
icing sugar, to dust
Begin by making the poaching liquid for the pears. Combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon, lemon and 600ml of water into a large pot. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat then reduce to low, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 8-10 minutes to reduce the liquid slightly.
Meanwhile prepare the pears by removing the stems, peeling, halving and coring them. Add them into the poaching liquid. Cut a piece of baking paper to the size of the pot and then cut a hole in the middle. Press the paper onto the surface of the pears. This stops the liquid evaporating too much and also keeps the pears submerged. Simmer the pears until tender. Insert a knife into a thick part of the pear and turn them over halfway if not fully submerged. This should take around 20 minutes but will depend on the pears you are using and how firm they are. Allow to cool in the poaching liquid then transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to dry. They need to be cool and completely dry before using them.
For the pastry, mix the flour, polenta, sugar, lemon and sea salt in a large bowl or on a bench until combined. Add the butter and toss it through the flour to coat. Use your finger tips to rub the butter into the flour until you have mostly pea sized lumps, some butter more rubbed in is fine too. Pour in egg yolks and begin to gently press the flour into the egg to begin to create the pastry. Add the iced water, 1tbsp at a time until you can press the pastry dough together and there is no dry bits of flour left. Shape into a disc, wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Allow the pastry dough to sit at room temperature to make it easier to roll. Take two thirds of the pastry dough and roll out on a dusted work bench to approximately 4mm in thickness. Drape into a 25cm fluted pan with a loose base. Arrange the pears onto the pastry. Now roll out the remaining pastry and lay over the pears, using your hands to shape it over the pear halves. Trim any excess overhanging pastry and press gently to secure the pastry edges together.
Whisk the egg with 1tsp of water and brush the tart with the egg wash. Pierce two holes into the pastry to allow for steam to escape and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is a sunny golden colour. Allow to cool then transfer to a serving plate and dust generously with icing sugar and serve slices at room temperature with crème anglaise. Any left over tart can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
What else I’m cooking with…
Persimmons, chestnuts and pumpkin. The latter in everything – risotto, pies, tarts and curries.
What I’m eating…
The Basque cheesecake from Marion.
You can follow along with Julia on Instagram and find more fab recipes via her website!