Pear, thyme and hazelnut tart


  • Serves 6 - 8 people

Thyme adds an intriguing savoury note to this burnt-butter tart, and poaching the pears in wine adds a further savoury element. Start this tart a day ahead to rest the pastry, and serve it with a dollop or two of crème fraîche.

  • 80 gm chilled butter, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 110 gm raw caster sugar
  • Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla bean
  • Finely grated rind of ½ orange
  • 1 tsp thyme, plus extra to serve
  • 50 gm (1/3 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • Hazelnut pastry
  • 80 gm roasted hazelnuts
  • 200 gm (1 cups) plain flour
  • 110 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
  • 125 gm chilled butter, diced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Poached pears
  • 400 ml semi-dry white wine, such as riesling
  • 400 gm raw caster sugar
  • Thinly peeled rind and juice of ½ orange and ½ lemon
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 4 ripe pears (such as Josephine), peeled, cored and quartered
01   For hazelnut pastry, finely process hazelnuts in a food processor, add flour, sugar and a pinch of salt, and process to combine. Add butter, process to fine crumbs then add yolks and process until dough just comes together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
02   For poached pears, bring wine, sugar, rinds, juices, thyme, cinnamon and 1 litre water to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add pears, cover directly with baking paper, weight with a plate, reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender (25-30 minutes). Remove 6 pear quarters with a slotted spoon, pat dry with paper towels, halve each lengthways and set aside. Refrigerate remaining pears in syrup.
03   Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm-thick round, then line a 23cm-diameter, 3cm-deep tart tin and trim edges. Refrigerate to rest for 1 hour, preheat oven to 180C and blind-bake tart case until edges are light golden (6-8 minutes). Remove paper and weights, then bake until light golden and crisp (5-6 minutes).
04   Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant (3-4 minutes), pour into a bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, vanilla seeds, rind, thyme and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until fluffy (2-3 minutes), then whisk in flour on low speed. Whisk in brown butter and crème fraîche, pour into pastry case, arrange halved pear wedges on top and bake until set and golden (45-50 minutes). Cool a little, then scatter with extra thyme and serve warm or at room temperature with crème fraîche and extra pears in syrup. This tart is best eaten on the day it’s made.
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