I love French pastries, American pastries have too much sugar in them in my opinion which drowns out the delicate flavors of whatever else is being used. The French do a great job of balancing flavors of nuts, fruits, and butter so that each ingredient shines and they also make sure that the mouthful of each dessert is light and airy.

Ingredients

Poached Pears:

  •   2 pears, peeled, cut in quarters and cored
  •   1 bottle of dry white wine (I used a cheap sauvignon blanc)
  •   1/2 cup granulated sugar

Pie Crust:

  •   1 cup all purpose flour
  •   1 stick of butter
  •   1/4 teaspoon salt
  •   2 tablespoons ice cold water

Frangipane:

  •   1/2 cup butter, softened
  •   1/2 cup sugar
  •   1 egg beaten
  •   1 egg yolk
  •   1 tablespoon brandy
  •   1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  •   2/3 cup almond meal
  •   2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Directions

Combine the wine and the sugar for the pears into a pot and set the heat on medium. Stir the mixture until all of the sugar dissolves. Add the quartered pears into the mixture and boil on high for 30 minutes. Pour out the liquid and let the pears cool.

For the pie crust, cut the butter into small 1cm x 1cm cubes. They should each be about the size of a pea. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Add the butter, flattening out each cube using your fingers making sure that each piece is coated with flour. Add the ice cold water and mix with a wooden spoon. Round up the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Flatten out the crust a little into a pancake shape and let sit in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Once the pie crust has had enough time to chill (the gluten needs to relax if you want a flaky pie crust), cover a flat surface with flour and roll out the dough. It should be big enough to line both the bottom of your pie pan and the edges. Take a fork and poke holes evenly throughout the crust. Bake in the oven (top rack) for 40 minutes until golden brown all around. Pull the crust out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature.

For the frangipane, add the butter and sugar into a KitchenAid mixing bowl and whip with the whisk attachment until light and soft. Add the beaten egg and whip until combined. Add the egg yolk and whip again. Add the brandy and almond extract and mix until combined. Add the all purpose flour and almond meal and mix on medium speed until combined, making sure to scrape down the sides once or twice. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Cut the poached pears into thin slices.

Once the pie crust has had enough time to chill to room temperature, spoon in the frangipane. Make sure the frangipane makes an even layer. Starting from the outside working in, layer the poached pear slices to make a spiral pattern. Place the pie plate into the oven (top rack) and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 °F and bake for 20 minutes. If the edges look golden brown, it’s done! Chill a little before serving.


Recipe by Rui Nakata. “An ideal Saturday night consists of experimenting with exotic ingredients in a cook off with my husband Anthony, with a glass of wine in my hand and a pint of beer in his. My bookshelves are overflowing with books on food, wine, and design where we source inspiration for our wild projects in the kitchen.”For more about Rui, visit her blogs libationmagazine.com and ruinakata.com.

Images by Carli René of Inked Fingers.