Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Pear-Flan Tart

Posted by osakaben41 on October 5, 2009

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If you want to get better at something I suppose you just need to keep working outside your comfort zone.  There are some wonderfully complicated recipes out there and the list keeps getting bigger, but until recently I had avoided Johnny Izzuni for anything other than inspiring pictures.

His website is actually a great resource, as he posts two recipes each month, an “advanced”, and a “beginner”.  The advanced ones invariably involve some obscure form of molecular gastronomy and ingredients I would probably only find at an MIT lab.  The beginner ones are still more involved than anything you’ll find in a Barefoot Contessa book (seriously, who out there has poached a pear Sou vide?)

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So with no small amount of trepidation, we dive into his “beginner” recipe for December of 2008.  Let me stress one more time, “beginners” are expected to have on hand Orange Blossom water, Orange and Lemon Oil (not extract), almond flour and of course Star Anise.  That said, It’s getting cold these days in Boston, which is great for all those fall dessert flavors.  I didn’t take too many liberties with his recipe beyond cutting it in half (it still made far more than I intended), and going with two larger tarts rather than a series of individual ones.  His Citrus Tart dough was great to work with, but didn’t call for nearly enough liquid to go with the 20 oz of flour and three sticks of butter (again, this is HALF the amount called for).  I had to add some more egg whites just to get it to hold together, but once it did, it worked beautifully.

I also ran into a problem with his flan topping.  It made about two quarts when I really only needed at most one.  I should have cooked it longer than the recipe called for also, just to thicken it up.  As it was written, I just added eggs to a warm cream mixture, which ended up being far too viscous.  When I poured it over the tarts, it ended up running out through the crust.  With so much left over I filled a few ramekins and baked them off in a water bath.   Now we have spare flan for snacking, there are worse ways to live.

The problem posed with extra flan

The problem posed with extra flan

That said, I love the way the house smelled of the poaching liquid (caramel, star anise, cinnamon, ginger and cloves).  The almond cream (Frangipane by any other name) was very easy, and smelled fantastic as it baked.  

Poached Pears, sliced and ready to go

Poached pears, sliced and ready to go

I had to search around for a Honey-Ginger ice cream recipe, and for lack of energy ended up with the simplest approach ever, some heavy cream (with a bit of milk), honey, and a tsp of powdered ginger.  Much like any fruit dessert, I think this is heavily dependent on the quality of honey used.  Someday I may have to try this again with my fathers homemade honey (it’s good to be retired and have hobbies).

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All said and done, this ‘easy’ recipe consisted of 6 components, the citrus dough, almond cream, poached pears, flan custard, Ginger-Honey ice cream and candied almond slices for garnish.  As for lessons learned, I discovered that my ancient spring kitchen scale is past its prime.  Time to upgrade to an electronic one that measures in grams.  It’s also worth noting that despite the author, if a recipe doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and fix it instead of following it blindly.

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4 Responses to “Pear-Flan Tart”

  1. lailablogs said

    Looks absolitely delicious ..
    Laila .. http://lailablogs.com/

  2. osakaben41 said

    Thanks Laila. Like a lot of things it isn’t as hard as it sounds at first. That said, it’ll be some time before we try his “advanced” recipes. Instructions read like this: “Add sorbet syrup to puree to 26° Brix. Adjust flavor with the addition of acid” It took some time to figure out what that even means, forget about actually doing it. (Lovely blog you have there. Happy to find new sources of inspiration)

  3. Jill said

    Beautiful tart! Thanks for the information about his website. 🙂

  4. […] Pear-Flan Tart […]

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