I couldn’t think of a more delicious way to celebrate the first day of my very first UK Winter than by warming up my tiny London flat with the enveloping aromas of buttery pastry and crisp seasonal pears. One of my favourite things about living in the UK is, of course, the proximity to the place I love so much; bella Sicilia. And, my favourite aspect of this closeness (besides the two hour plane ride!) is that I now share the seasons with my neighbours in the Mediterranean. So now when Ciro visits the ancient street markets in Palermo and tastes the freshest new season tomatoes in all their juicy sunshiney glory I too will be enjoying my first bite of the sweet cherry tomatoes from the neighbouring Isle of Wight. And yet, even though Ciro and I may now be a little more in sync, there are still some things that will never really blend together; because as I write this new Journal post from my living room in London on a chilly Winter’s morning Ciro is joyfully strolling along the golden sands of Mondello beach wearing shorts and flip flops on a sunny blue sky day. As my mum’s Dutch watercolour teacher used to say “Oh vel, vot can you do”.
So, while I may be wearing a thick snuggly woollen jumper instead of sandals and a dress, I’ve decided to embrace my new wintery life by whipping up a decadently warm Sicilian inspired Pear and Pistachio Crostata. This recipe is really quite simple to make and I made short work of the homemade pastry by using my fancy new food processor. I am woman! I can imagine this mouth-watering tart served with crème fraiche or a scoop of vanilla bean gelato and a warming glass of passito while shared amongst family and friends at the Christmas table. Or, simply do as I’m about to do, make yourself a nice strong cup of espresso and eat a slice straight from the oven. Because I’m an only child and I’m not very good at sharing. Well, I’ll meet you halfway and share this recipe with you but you’ll have to make your own tart.
For tart crust
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Zest of one small orange
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 140g unsalted butter – cold and cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoon cold water
- Extra flour for rolling
- 115g unsalted butter – softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 small orange
- 1 cup ground pistachio
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the dough
Mix the sugar, flour, zest and salt in a bowl then transfer to a food processor with a dough blade fitted.
Add the cubed cold butter to the flour mixture and pulse several times until mixture becomes pea sized.
Turn the food processor on low and drizzle cold water over the dough mixture through the water hole, as soon as the dough starts to pull together turn the food processor off. You may need to stop the food processor in between and use a spatula to get the flour at the bottom to mix up.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and rest in the refrigerator for an hour.
Prepare the filling
Ground the pistachio in the food processor using the chopping blade until mealy, set aside.
Add the sugar, orange zest and softened butter to the food processor and cream together.
Add the ground pistachio, flour and salt, and pulse until combined.
Beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and add to the food processor. Pulse until a smooth paste forms.
Refrigerate the mixture for an hour.
Assemble and bake
Preheat oven to 200 C (400°F).
Take crostata dough out of the fridge and roll into a circle about ¼” thick and 2” larger than your tart pan. Use extra flour to keep dough from sticking to the counter and roller.
Carefully place the dough over the tart pan, lightly press the dough into the bottom and side of the pan, let the excess dough hang over the side.
Press the rolling pin along the edge of the tart pan to take off excess dough, prick the dough several times to create steam vents and place in the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes.
In the meantime, wash the pears, peel and quarter. Remove the core and cut into thin slices crosswise.
Take the tart pan out of the freezer and add the pistachio frangipane filling and spread it with a spatula evenly.
Add pears on top of the filling and push them slightly into the filling.
Bake in the middle rack for 45 minutes uncovered until the top is golden brown and puffed up.
Remove and let cool on a wire rack completely before cutting into the tart.
Serve with a dusting of powder sugar and mascarpone or vanilla bean gelato.