Pear and Chestnut Tart with
Rosemary and Orange Syrup
A delectable tart that celebrates seasonal ingredients – chestnuts,
pears, oranges and rosemary. Given a helping hand with tapioca starch and
rice flour, chestnut flour pastry makes a crackling crisp crust with a slight nutty
flavour. It's also gluten-free. You could use ordinary short-crust pastry
if you prefer. It's fine to take a short-cut and use vacuum-packed chestnuts
instead of freshly roasted ones.
vegetable oil for greasing
elongated firm-fleshed pears 3–4, such as Conference
sugar 2 tbsp
roasted peeled chestnuts roughly chopped 1 tbsp
thick cream to serve
for the pastry:
chestnut flour 55g
tapioca starch 55g, plus extra for dusting
rice flour 25g
xanthan powder ½ tsp
fine sea salt a pinch
unsalted butter 35g, chilled and diced
egg 1, organic or free-range, lightly beaten
iced water ½ tbsp
for the syrup:
orange peel 5 short thin strips, without any bitter white pith
rosemary 3–4 tender sprigs
1) First make the pastry. Put the chestnut flour, tapioca starch, rice flour, xanthan powder and salt in a sieve set over a bowl. Muddle with your fingers and push through the sieve. Sieve once or twice more, until well mixed.
2) Tip the diced butter into the flour mixture and rub it in with the tips of your fingers and thumbs (chill them first under cold running water). Use a flicking movement – imagine you are playing castanets. Hold your hands well above the bowl so that the flour drifts gently down, and you can see any fragments of butter that still need rubbing in. Once the butter has been completely rubbed in, mix in the beaten egg and water.
3) Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and form it into a thick narrow oblong rather like a railway carriage, ready for rolling out. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for 30 minutes.
4) Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 8. Grease the base and sides of an oblong metal tart tin measuring about 35x10x2.5cm. Line the base with baking parchment and grease that too.
5) Flour the work surface and your rolling pin. With the short side of the block of dough facing you, use your rolling pin to gently press it away from you in several places along its length. Repeat this two or three times so that the dough gradually begins to elongate and flatten. Roll it into a 41x16-cm rectangle. Carefully lift it into the tin, pressing it into the corners with the side of your index finger. Trim the edges with a sharp knife, and use the trimmings to patch any cracks (see Cook's notes.)
6) Slice the pears in half lengthways, and remove the core and peel. Slice each half lengthways into three. Pack them tightly along the length of the pastry case, head to tail and rounded side facing down. Sprinkle evenly with the sugar.
7) Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pears are just tender and the edges beginning to blacken, rotating the tin halfway through. Protect the edges of the pastry with strips of foil if it browns too much.
8) Take the tart out of the oven and leave in the tin to cool to room temperature.
9) Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil, then boil for 8–10 minutes or until the bubbles look big and very syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool and thick, but still pourable. If it seems too runny, boil for a little longer.
10) Spoon the syrup over the pears, and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve at room temperature with a jug of thick cream.
• If you don't have an oblong tart tin, use a 20-cm/8-inch round tin instead.
If you are using a round tart tin, form the pastry into a thick disc rather
than an oblong.
• Scrupulously check the unfilled pastry case for cracks. If there are any,
patch them very carefully.
• The pastry is quite fragile so it's best to serve the tart in the tin in case
the syrup leaks.
• Leave the rosemary and orange strips in the syrup when you pour it over
the pears. They look lovely and give an appetising hint of flavour.
Recipe © Christine McFadden 2020