Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pear and Almond Tart -- #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  In the course of one week, friends and patients gave my hunny and me a shopping bag full of cherry tomatoes, an ice cream bucket full of peppers, a basket of heirloom tomatoes, and a grocery bag full of adorable little pears. Since my own tomato plants weren’t very productive this year, I really appreciated the generosity. 

This Pear and Almond Tart is very simple, very French. It’s slightly adapted from The French Country Table by Laura Washburn, a book I’m sure I’ve referenced here before. It’s highly reliable, and I love that the recipes actually look like the beautiful photographs! (My house and garden don’t much resemble the French scenes scattered throughout the pages, but no surprise there!) The shell does need to be prepared and baked ahead of time, so allow for that. 

You may notice that the shell calls for cold butter, while the recipe for the almond cream doesn’t specify. Here’s a great primer on when and why to use cold butter and how to soften it when necessary. I took both sticks out of the fridge at the same time and the second stick, for the cream, was just the right temperature when I got to it. And yes, I’m rolling on a King Arthur Baking silicon sheet and I love it!

You can layer the pears in rows starting with the short end against the edge of the crust, or curve the long end of the slice against the crust and wok toward the middle. Be generous; I should have used at least one more pear on this tart but it had been a few years since I’d made it and I was afraid to over-do. Don’t be afraid to over-do the pears!

Americans often top a tart or pie like this with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, and that is lovely. The French are more likely to eat it plain. Either way, I know you’ll agree it’s scrumptious. 

Thanks to my friends at the Montana Library Association for the measuring spoon. As they say, librarians measure up! 

How are you enjoying the late-summer bounty of fruit these days? And if you didn't see Maya Corrigan's beautiful Peach Cake yesterday, an adaptation of the classic Plum Torte from Marian Burros, scroll down and check it out! 

Pear and Almond Tart

adapted from The French Country Table by Laura Washburn

For the sweet pastry shell: 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

a pinch of salt 

cold water

For the tart: 

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup ground almonds (a small food processor or chopper is ideal)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3-4 ripe pears if you’re using commercial fruit, 5-6 if you’re using smaller home-grown pears

powdered sugar (optional)

To make the shell:

Put the flour, sugar, butter, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the butter breaks down, 5-10 pulses. Add 3 tablespoons cold water and pulse until the dough forms coarse crumbs; you may need to add another tablespoon of cold water and pulse briefly. Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment paper large enough to use later to roll out the dough and form into a ball. Flatten ball into a disk. Wrap in the paper and let sit at room temperature 30-60 minutes.

Grease and flour a 10 inch pan with straight sides. If you have one with a removable bottom, use it!

Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

Roll out the pastry on a lightly-floured surface and carefully place in the prepared pan, patching any holes and pressing gently into the sides. Clean up the edges. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with the tines of a fork. Line with the parchment and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes, then remove weights and paper and bake another 10-12 minutes, until just golden. Allow to cool 15-20 minutes before filling. 

To make the tart:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. 

Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer and beat until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Fold in the almonds and flour until well-mixed. Spread the almond cream evenly in the tart shell. 

Peel and slice the pears, about 1/4 inch thick, and arrange the slices on top of the almond cream.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until tart is puffed and golden. If the edge of the crust appears to be getting too dark, protect it in the last few minutes with a silicon pie shield. 

Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar if you’d like. Serve warm. 

Serves 8. 

Bon appetit!

From the cover of BITTERROOT LAKE, written as Alicia Beckman (Crooked Lane Books; available in hardcover, ebook, and audio): 

When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman's suspense debut.

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah's guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she's a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she's greeted by an old friend--and by news of a murder that's clearly tied to that tragic day she'll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by her website and subscribe to her seasonal newsletter, for a chat about the writing life, what she's working on, and  what she's reading -- and a free short story. And join her on Facebook where she shares book news and giveaways from her writer friends, and talks about food, mysteries, and the things that inspire her.


  1. Thank you for the Pear and Almond Tart recipe. Recipes with pears always make me think of my Granny who cooked with them a lot since they had several old trees. So when I try this recipe, I'll not only enjoy it but the sweet memories it brings to mind too.

    Can't wait for the opportunity to read "BITTERROOT LAKE" which is on my TBR list.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks, Kay! I love your stories of cooking with your mother and grandmother! And I hope you enjoy the trip to Montana with me, on the page.

  2. This tasty tart looks like it would also be good with apples.

    1. Washburn uses the same pastry recipe for her Tarte Tatin, the classic French apple tart, using an apple puree in place of the almond cream.

  3. Great step by step instructions, thank you for sharing such a yummy sounding recipe. I bet the almonds nuttiness enhance the pear sweetness and add a little texture as well.

    1. My pleasure, Tracy! And yes, the flavors and textures go together beautifully -- especially in my mouth!

  4. Yum, pears and almonds --- two of my favorite flavors! Thanks, Leslie! Wish I had some of that right now!

  5. The last time I ate a pear and almond tart in a restaurant, it had marzipan in it, which ruined it for me. I'm glad that your version has plain old almonds in it. Now I just have to find some good pears!