Rustic Pear Tart with Walnut Streusel Topping

By • September 15, 2011 21 Comments

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Author Notes: My family adores streusel toppings, especially when they're full of walnuts. I usually sprinkle a bit of the streusel, without the nuts, onto the crust before adding the pears to soak up some of the juice released when the tart bakes. Enjoy!! ;o)AntoniaJames

Makes one 10-inch tart

The Crust

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, frozen, cut into three slices ** See note, below
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup barley flour, or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  1. Put the frozen butter in a medium metal bowl in the freezer. If you're using a food processor and your blade is metal, put that in the bowl, too. (If you don't have a metal bowl, don't worry about it. I like metal because it gets cold quickly.)
  2. Measure the dry ingredients into the bowl of the food processor. Measure 3 tablespoons of ice water and the cider vinegar into a small dish or measuring cup. Get the blade (only) from the freezer and set up your food processor. (If you want to work this by hand and not use your food processor, that's fine, too.)
  3. Pulse the dry ingredients three or four times to combine. Add the frozen butter; pulse, using long bursts, ten or twelve times. Scrape down the bowl and give it a few short bursts. You should have chunks of fat in all sizes. Only if some of them are very large should you pulse again a few times. Chunks the size of sugar cubes are fine.
  4. Dump the contents of the food processor into a medium bowl. (I use the metal one I used for the butter.) Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of ice water and the vinegar on it. Work quickly to combine. I use the back of a fork for this. Scoop it up with your hands and press the dough together. If it's still noticeably dry, sprinkle on another tablespoon of ice water and briskly work it in.
  5. Squeeze the dough together quickly and dump it onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pull the wrap up and around it and shape it quickly into a thick disk about 5 inches in diameter. Pat it into shape with your fingertips, to keep the warmth of your hands from making the dough tough.
  6. Fully cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. Don't bother to wash out the bowl of your food processor. You can use it, as is, to make the streusel topping.
  7. NB: I often make this using 6 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of fine leaf lard. You could also use shortening, if you prefer.

The Rustic Pear Tart and Walnut Streusel Topping

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon + a dash for sprinkling on the crust before baking
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Tiny dash of cloves (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
  • ¼ cup ( ½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 large pears (I often use just-ripe Bartletts; Bosc pears also work well, but you may want to peel them.)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, or more to taste (pecans and almonds can also be used)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  1. Pulse in the food processor about three or four times the flour, brown sugar, salt, spices and wheat germ. Add the butter and pulse 9 or 10 times, or until the butter is broken down into marble-sized chunks.
  2. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Position one shelf two-thirds down from the top of your oven.
  3. Take your crust out of the refrigerator and turn it onto a well-floured surface. Dust your rolling pin with flour, and roll out the crust, turning occasionally and sprinkling with flour, until it's about 13 inches in diameter.
  4. Lift the crust gently onto a large piece of parchment paper. Spread about two heaping tablespoons of the streusel topping on the crust, leaving the outer 1 ½ inch of crust bare.
  5. Quarter, core and peel the pears (if necessary), then cut the quarters into large chunks. (I often don't peel Bartletts, given how thin their skins are these days.) Drop the pieces directly onto the streusel covered crust. Make a tall mound of pear pieces in the center. It will look like too many pear chunks, but once it cooks, you'll see that it's not.
  6. Toss the walnuts into the remaining streusel topping. Sprinkle it over the pears, putting a bit more on the pears in the middle.
  7. Pull about 1 1/2 inch of the crust up around the edges, pleating if you like, or just leaving it rough and free form. Mix the teaspoon of sugar with a dash of cinnamon and sprinkle that around the outside edge.
  8. Slide the parchment paper and tart together gently onto an open-sided cookie sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the edges are a nice golden brown and the pears in the middle seem to be mostly cooked. If the crust starts to brown too soon, cover lightly with a foil ring.
  9. Allow the tart to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
  10. Enjoy!! ;o)

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