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September 2021 / Food & Drink / by Liz Skone James

Recipe: Petersham Nurseries’ Pear and Walnut Upside-Down Tart

Fans of Petersham Nurseries will love their gorgeous book, which charts the Boglione family’s journey from the very early days as a tiny plant nursery behind their home. Incorporating stories of Francesco and Gael’s past, the book illustrates how the business developed in line with their personal commitment to nature, integrity and family. Intertwined with beautiful recipes for every season, and illustrated with gorgeous photography by Andrew Montgomery, it is as beautiful as you’d expect it to be. A special edition is released this month, which comes in a linen box cover with a limited run of 1,000 copies (Petersham Nurseries, £150, petershamnurseries.com). Offering us a taste of what to expect, the family shared this delicious autumnal recipe. Tuck in. 

Ingredients 

For the rough-puff pastry
250g plain flour | 250g unsalted butter, firm but not chilled (remove from the fridge 2 hours before use) | 1 tsp salt | 125ml iced water

For the tart
150g caster sugar | 100g unsalted butter, cubed | 3 ripe pears, peeled and cored and cut in half vertically | 1 large egg white | A handful of walnuts, toasted | 200ml crème fraîche, to serve

Method

  1. First make the pastry. Pour the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Dice the butter and add to the centre of the well with the salt.
  2. Gradually mix the ingredients together with your fingertips. When the cubes of butter have become very small and the mixture resembles rubble (you should still be able to see some small chunks of butter), add a little of the iced water and mix together. Continue adding the water slowly until you have a firm dough (you may not need all the water). Mix until combined, but do not be tempted to knead.
  3. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 30 x 30cm square. Fold into thirds, as if folding a letter, to make three layers. Turn vertically through 180 degrees, roll to flatten and then fold again. Turn again through 180 degrees and repeat. Chill the pastry for 20 minutes, then roll and fold the pastry twice more as above. Keep in the fridge until needed.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  5. To make the caramel, place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe 28cm frying pan and cook over a medium–low heat, not stirring, for around 10 minutes, or until it has melted and starts to bubble (you may find it helpful to gently swirl the pan once or twice towards the end). Remove from the heat and carefully add the butter, whisking constantly until combined. If it splits, put it back over a low heat and whisk continuously until it comes together. Arrange the pears, core side up, in a circle around the pan.
  6. Roll out the pastry into a circle large enough to cover the pears and place gently over the top, pushing down the pastry around the sides. Make a hole in the middle and brush with the egg white.
  7. Bake for 30–40 minutes until golden brown, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, as the caramel will be piping hot and can easily burn.
  8. To remove the tart from the pan, place a large plate on top of the pan, then, with both hands, squeeze the plate and pan together and flip over in one quick movement.
  9. This moves the pastry to the bottom and reveals the pears, now beautifully caramelised. Sprinkle with the walnuts and serve with the crème fraîche.

TIP: Try with Essenzia, Pojer e Sandri (a sweet wine with great aromatic intensity)