Pear and almond crostata

Neil Perry
Head to Italty for sweets: Almond and pear (or apple) crostata.
Head to Italty for sweets: Almond and pear (or apple) crostata. Photo: William Meppem

Serve Italian crostata for a dainty morning tea, or dress these treats up for a fitting end to a dinner party by adding cream or ice-cream. For the crostata, apple is a good substitute for pear.

Ingredients

For the pastry

3/4 cup plain flour

1/4 cup pure icing sugar

1 1/2 tbsp ground almond meal

1/4 tsp sea salt

45g unsalted butter, softened

1/2 free-range egg, beaten

1/2 tbsp milk

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the pear

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 whole clove

1 small cinnamon stick

1 large beurre bosc pear (or an apple)

For the filling

55g unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 tsp plain flour

1/2 free-range egg, beaten

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup almond meal

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp sliced almonds

double cream, to serve

 

Method

FOR THE PASTRY, sift flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl, then add almond meal, salt and butter and mix well. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until the pastry comes together. Gently knead to form a dough, using a little more flour if needed. Divide into 4 pieces, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

FOR THE PEAR, place sugar and spices in a saucepan with about 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Peel and halve the pear and place in the saucepan. Make a cartouche by cutting out a circle of baking paper the same diameter as the saucepan. Place this on top of the pear. Bring to a boil again, then simmer for about 30 minutes, until pears are soft but holding their shape. Remove the pears and continue to simmer the syrup for 15 minutes. Strain the syrup and reserve. Remove the pear's core and slice the fruit.

FOR THE FILLING, whisk butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Mix in flour, then whisk in egg and vanilla, followed by almond meal, until fully incorporated.

ROLL OUT PASTRY on a floured surface to make 4 discs, 3-4mm thick and 15cm diameter. While the pastry rests in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 180°C.

EVENLY SPREAD the filling in the centre of each pastry disc, then top with sliced pear. Bring about 2cm of pastry edge up over the top of the crostata. Sprinkle with brown sugar and almonds. Bake for 15 minutes until golden. Serve with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of reserved syrup.