Poaching fruits is not only a brilliant way to extend the shelf’s life of the said fruit, it also introduces a lovely sweetness and texture to the fruit which makes them the perfect dessert.
One of my all-time favourites is poached pears in red wine. When you poach them in red wine, they maintain its perfect shape while adorning the most gorgeous burgundy shade. Aside from looking très élégant, they take on a beautiful flavour from the wine, warmth from the cinnamon and orange zest, and complementary hint of spiciness from the black peppercorns.
Instead, I decided to make something just a little more elaborate. When you put red wine poached pears with my favourite pâte sucrée and crème patisserie, you can say my world is more or less complete.
Both the two elements are not hard to make, you just need time. So if you planned things out ahead, you can split up the tart making process into two to three separate days. Then, you will find everything a breeze.
I poached my pears a day before making the rest of the tart. Soaking them overnight in the poaching liquid will give a reddish tinge to the insides as well. Otherwise, the insides would look almost ivory, which is fine because they will still taste as great.
I’m still thinking of a prettier way of laying out the pear slices on the tart. A quick glance at the tart, one might actually mistake those slices for ham!
I need to pick your creative minds. Do feel free to leave your suggestions and ideas. I’ll be most happy to hear from you!
Recipe: Red wine poached pear tart
Makes 1 rectangular tart (35cm x 12cm x 2.5cm)
Though it seems like there is a lot of work for a dessert, all the components of the tart can be made ahead over a day or two. You just need to assemble the tart on the day you are having it.
If the tart is too much work, you can always go straight to the red wine poached pears. They make a perfect dessert as well. Serve them alongside a scoop of your favourite vanilla bean ice cream. I also do like them for breakfast with some homemade greek yogurt.
Pâte sucrée (Sweet tart dough)
This recipe makes double the portion for this tart. You can either cut down the recipe by half. But I prefer to make the full recipe and keep the remaining dough for another use. This dough keeps well for a week in the fridge and a month in the freezer.
250g all-purpose flour, sifted
125g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes (Your butter should not be melting though)
125g caster sugar
60g egg (add more egg if needed, if the dough still feels dry)
grated zest from a lemon, orange or grapefruit
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Rub in butter with flour and caster sugar to fine breadcrumb-like consistency
- Add in egg, vanilla and zest till mixture is well combined. Alternatively, you could opt to use a food processor for the first two steps. Be very careful not to overwork the dough.
- Roll the dough into a flat disk, cling wrap it and place the dough in the fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes.
- Dust flour sparingly on the dough and rolling pin, roll dough to approximately 3mm thick.
- Transfer the dough into the tart pan. Rest dough in the tart tin for about 15 minutes before baking.
- Place a sheet of crumbled parchment paper over the top of the tart shell and weigh it down with baking weights or uncooked rice/beans. This will prevent the sides of the tart from sliding. Another tip is to bring the tart dough slightly over the edge before baking.
- Blind bake the tart shell in a 180 degree celcius pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the rice/beans during the last 5 minutes of the baking time and continue baking so that the tart base can brown.
Red wine poached pears
5 pears, either Bosc or Packham pears are good for poaching
300ml red wine (I used a cabernet shiraz)
300ml apple juice (the boxed variety will do)
3-4 tbsp sugar, or to taste
zest of orange, two large strips, remove the pith (white part)
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 black peppercorns (whole)
1. Remove the skins of the pears. Core them with a melon baller. You can choose to leave the stems on if you are serving it as a dessert so it looks prettier. You can choose to poach them whole (which was what I did) or you can quarter them. Poaching them whole takes a longer time. So if you are poaching them in quarters, cut down the poaching time.
2. Place the pears in a medium pot and add in the rest of the ingredients. Place a cartouche with a hole in the centre (to allow the steam to escape) over the pears so the pears will stay under the liquid.
3. Turn the fire to medium low heat and simmer the pears until they are cooked through. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes depending on how large your pears are. You can test whether it is done by poking a pear with a small small knife. It should pierce through easily.
Crème Patisserie (Pastry cream)
500ml full cream milk
1/2 vanilla bean, scrapped
100g egg yolks
100g caster sugar
60g cornflour, sifted
35g butter, cut into cubes
- Prepare and measure all the ingredients before you start. You wouldn’t want to cry over spilled milk when you are rushing while the milk is boiling.
- Place milk and scrapped vanilla bean into a medium size pot (big enough for all the ingredients).
- In the meantime, whisk egg yolks with sugar in a separate bowl until well-combined before adding the cornflour. Whisk till mixture is uniform.
- When the milk boils, you will see the milk in the pot start to bubble. Take the milk off the heat and pour it into your egg mixture. At this point, whisk quickly to incorporate the milk mixture.
- Pour the milk and egg mixture back into pot (under low heat) and whisk continuously (as if your life depends on it!) This step is crucial to prevent lumps from forming in the crème patisserie.
- Ensure that you whisk under low to medium heat until a smooth, thickened paste. Allow the crème patisserie to cook for at least 2-3 minutes before taking it off the heat. You should see one or two large bubbles forming. That is an indication that the pastry cream is done.
- Whisk in the cubed butter until well-combined.
- Transfer the pastry cream, using a scrapper, onto a tray lined with cling wrap. Cling wrap the pastry cream. Cool it down in the fridge before using it.
- Before using the pastry cream, transfer it into a bowl and whisk it up until smooth and lump-free.
1. Ensure that the tart base is cooled completely.
2. Fill your piping bag with the pastry cream. Fill the tart base starting from end to end. Alternatively, you can simply spoon the pastry cream into the tart and level it with a small palette knife.
3. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and let the excess drip off before you slice them and arrange your tart in any way you like (fanning them out works well).
4. Finish off by brushing some of the poaching liquid onto the pears to give them a shine or you can use a normal mirror glaze.
*Storage tip: This tart is at its best when eaten on the day it is made. Keep it in a container in the refrigerator. You should consume it within two days. The pastry cream and pears will start to soften the tart shell over time.