Tarte Bourdaloue aux poires
Tarte Bourdaloue aux poires is a classic french pear and almond tart whose origins seem to be in question. Some say it was created by Coquelin of La Pâtisserie Bourdaloue in 1909 and subsequently named it after the famous Parisienne street which the pastry shop still stands. 河田勝彦, the renowned Japanese patissier wrote in his book “Sélection de patisseries françaises anciennes et modernes” wrote that the first written record of this confection was in “Larousse Gastronomique” written by Proper Montagne which noted that it was created by Fasquelle, a patissier along rue Bourdaloue in the middle of the 19th century who named it after Louis Bourdaloue, a famous french jesuit from late 17th century [sic.]. Whatever the case, this is a very rustic tart and the recipe can be tweaked to suit one’s own likes. The recipe is made up of 3 simple parts, i.e. Pâte Sucrée, Crème d’amandes and Poires pochées. Here’s the version I’ve adapted from several recipes I’ve come across.
Recipe is as follows
ingredients and mise-en-place
for Pâte Sucrée (sweet crust pastry)
I used the recipe from Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo’s cookbook on basic pastry techniques as a base. Other book and online recipes are very similar. basically its ground almond, icing sugar and butter in equal portions
ground almond 50g
icing sugar 50g
1 whole egg
1 tsp rum
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
first whisk the butter until pale and creamy.
add icing sugar and mix well
beat whole egg in a bowl and add into butter-sugar mixture in 2 -3 additions until well incorporated
sift in ground almond and mix well, careful to break up any lumps.
add rum and give it a good stir,
cover bowl wtih clingfilm and refrigerate
for Poires pochées (poached pears)
3-4 fresh pears.
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise and scrapped
1 stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
add peeled pears, scrapped vanilla pod and remaining spices. Maintain the pears upright if possible to ensure even cooking. when the water returns to a boil, lower flame and let it simmer for about 15 min.
turn off flame and allow the syrup to cool down before transferring to airtight container. Allow the pears to steep in the cooking liquids overnight in the fridge to allow the flavours to intensify.
ground almond, ground pistachio and/or toasted ground hazelnuts
roll pastry crust until thin and place into mould ring or tart pan.
dock the base with a fork. leave in fridge for another 30 min for the crust to firm up.
sprinkle ground almond, ground pistachio and toasted ground hazelnut generously over the base
pipe almond cream in spirals
carefully halve pears and slice them about 3-4 mm thick
line the pear slices over the top of the almond cream in a radial motif. traditionally 4 lots are placed to resemble the cross since it was afterall to commemorate the french jesuit. I used rather small pears and had space for 5 lots to form a simple rosette.be careful not to leave any gaps in the middle
bake at 180C for about 40-45 min
take out of oven and while still hot, brush the top with a generous application of apricot glaze
sprinkle with toasted almond slices or chopped silician pistachios
Modifications and Reflections
be sure to chill the pastry dough sufficiently before working on them. It can be rather tricky as the butter melts really quickly in our weather and from the heat dissipated from our hands.
I used argentina sugar pears because they are in season. Any hard pear should work. select pears which are completely riped but still very firm and hard. Soft pears with macerate with the poaching and lose form.
i’d used orange blossom water in both the creme d’amandes and the pear poaching liquids as I love the aroma as well as the slight hint of bitterness imparted by the concoction. The initial plan was to add it only to the poaching liquids but it seemed to subtle for several reasons. The heat might have broken down the chemicals which render the intricate floral sense from orange blossom water. These are esters we are talking about and many of them are not heat tolerant. I’d poached 6 pears with a “just in case” mentality instead of the 3-4 I’ve written above. More pears necessarily mean more water and that would invariably diluted the syrup. so much for being “kiasu”.
so as a contingency measure, I’ve added orange blossom water to the almond cream as well. the fragrance was noticeable but not overpowering. It went very well with the warmth provided by the spices. Again, I’d experimented a little by overdoing the spices with star anise and a single clove, apart from the usually cinnamon-vanilla duo. The complexity of smells and taste aroused by the spices and orange blossom water created something that reminded me of middle east and turkish delights. that certainly broke the monotony of an otherwise sweet and nothing but sweet tart. if you aint sure this is gonna work for you, stick to cinnamon and vanilla. it’s safe but otherwise, boring…
sprinkling an assortment of nuts is again something which was rather experimental. traditionally, broken up macaron shells and ground almond were used. since i don’t have any macaron shells at hand and aint gonna bake some with nice feet only to have them brutely dismembered, I’d added ground pistachio and toasted hazelnuts instead. the latter are leftovers from Pierre Herme’s financiers made 2 weeks back. Since the French are as excessive with noisette as the americans are with peanut butter, I’m sure I’ll be forgiven. 🙂
The top of the almond cream which was not covered with pear slices are sprinkled with leftover crumbs from Aran’s Rhubarb and Mulberry Crumb Cake”