Pear tart with sponge base and lemony yoghurt filling, topped with beautiful pears. Who needs apples?
Compare apples with pears
Why do we compare apples with apples but never with pears? Apple of one’s eye is cute; pear-shaped things not so much. An apple a day keeps the doctor away – doesn’t a pear?
Admittedly, there are bad apples, and they don’t fall far from the tree, while a pear tree at least has a partridge sitting on top. But overall, apples get far more attention than pears, also in the kitchen.
Perry is nowhere near as well-known as apple cider. Pear pie? Google knows only Katy Perry’s favourite pie. Pears are not any more expensive than apples, depending on the variety of course. Why then are they so underused?
It could be because they are either very firm (Conference) or soft and mushy (Comice or William), there is no in-between stage of pearness. I’m on Conference pears’ side: I love firm fruit. There is nothing worse than a mushy, sugary apple and with all the varieties you never can tell what you’re going to get.
Pears are dependable – a Conference will break your teeth and a Comice run down your chin and jumper in sticky juice.
I am now going to lobby for pears and here’s the start: a pear tart.
Testing YouTube recipes
The inspiration comes from a recent weekend spent watching cookery on YouTube. One particular channel attracted my attention: Ricette Fatte In Casa, Homemade Recipes. The invisible cook whips up simple, allegedly Italian creations of which every single one is ‘the best in the world!’, ‘made in 5 minutes!’ or ‘the most loved in Italy!’.
I was initially quite taken with the format and the results shown in the videos. My suspicions stirred a little when I saw the channel has been publishing a video every day or sometimes twice a day – that won’t be just an individual nice Italian nonna or nonno.
That smells like churning out videos on an industrial scale, possibly not quite from Italy. Especially that instead, as you’d expect, linking to an associated cookery blog, the YT channel links to an online shop selling T shirts, mugs, odds and sods.
But since I don’t believe in dissing what I haven’t tried, I picked a trio of Mx Ricette’s ricette and concocted the tart.
What is it like?
The tart is very nice though anyone who adds baking powder to shortcrust pastry should think again about their career choice.
There is too much sugar in everything: sweet pears are cooked with sugar and added to sweetened pastry case. The reason why American pies are so gorgeous is because they feature sweet filling in plain pastry. It’s the matter of balance.
Cooking times are for someone who likes their pastry raw. And the yoghurt filling I was very intrigued by would have been a bit meh if not for adding the zest of a whole lemon to it.
But it was an all in all an interesting experiment and not a bad outcome.
The sponge base
One definite advantage is that it’s very easily made. Oil replacing butter works ok though I’d say stick to the butter in the future.
The only workable (and Italian) modification to shortcrust pastry I have seen was the addition of white wine to spongata di natale pastry, the oversize Italian Christmas mince pie. This is much more like dense sponge rather than shortcrust.
The yoghurt cream filling
It’s worth chalking up for the future, whenever I want to make a pie or tart filling to replace pastry cream or frangipane.
The sliced pear topping
The pears were very nice, though I only added a couple of teaspoons of sugar to soften them with, rather than the original 50g.
Absolutely the nicest thing about this bake is the pears. With the zest in the yoghurt underneath, they stand out beautifully and could beat all the apples in the world!
More pear recipes
Is it a starter or dessert? It’s both – just like figs, pears can be baked and topped with blue cheese for a great combo of flavours.
And let’s not forget that pears work in salads, like in this pear, pumpkin and haloumi one.
More tart recipes
The classic, apricot and frangipane tart is made with genuine Italian pasta frolla, shortcrust pastry as the base.
And a lovely blueberry cornmeal tart – which is why I can never decide which is my favourite pie/tart crust!