Pear and ginger tarts single

Were you ever fascinated with shapes as a child?  The outline of a jagged leaf.  The wingspan of a bird.  The shape of fluffy clouds.  The swirl of a seaside shell.  The non-uniform shape of a garden stone.

I was.  I was fascinated with many shapes, including the distinctive tapering of the humble pear.

I can almost picture my tiny, chubby hands holding a pear, looking at it, contemplating it.  Wanting to roll it out in front of me, but knowing it was never going to stay straight.  It was so uniquely shaped compared with the common apple or orange.  Line all three up, and you have a stand out, for sure.

I still have a soft spot for the pear.  Less so now because of their shape, and more so because of what they signify.  The start of cooler days, and more importantly, the start of cooler nights.  As we move into our winter season here in sub-tropical Brisbane, this little odd shaped fruit makes a regular appearance in my grocery basket each and every week.

The soft, buttery flesh of the pear is delicious eaten raw and unadulterated, but cooked, the pear certainly can hold a flavour of its own.

For my Sweet Dough month, I wanted to incorporate some pears into my baking.  I have enjoyed the gooey blueberry drizzle of the Finnish Mustikkapiiraat, and the rich, creamy Brioche Tart paired with caramelised fruits.  I was also inspired by the talented Y, at Lemonpi, with her Persimmon, cinnamon and yogurt brioche tart.

Pear and ginger tarts set

A simple dough.  Some homemade crème fraîche.  And a few slices of spiced pears.  Easy.  In a few short steps you have a sweet little fruit tart, and a nice twist on the usual pastry versions.

{ Basic sweet dough recipe } Original recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

This recipe takes around four hours from beginning to end.  You will need to plan accordingly but the taste will be worth the effort.

* Ingredients *
1 cup milk
¼ cup water (110F/45C)
3.5g / ½ package dried yeast
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4½ to 5 cups of plain, all purpose flour
¼ cup / ½ stick of butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

* Directions *

Warm the milk in a saucepan until bubbles appear around the edge.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 110F/45C.  In the meantime, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.   Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, beaten eggs, and 1 cup of the flour.  Beat the mixture until smooth.  Add 2 more cups of flour and continue to beat.  Continue until the dough is glossy.  Add the melted butter and stir well.  Add a further 1 ½ cups of flour and continue to beat well.  Stir in the remaining ½ cup of flour bit by bit until the dough is stiff – you may not need to add it all.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, cover and let rest for 15 minutes.  Then knead the dough lightly until it is smooth and glossy.  Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, lightly spraying the top of the dough with oil to prevent drying.  Allow to double in size, about 1½ to 2 hours.  Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled, about 1 hour.  Turn out onto a floured surface.  You should have roughly have between 2.4-2.6lb / 1.1-1.2kg of dough in total.  Divide into three equal parts to make three separate braid loaves.  For each, divide each into three again.  Roll each piece into a 12”/30cm strip.  Use three strips and braid into a loaf shape.  Let the braided loaves rest on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Let rise for 20-30 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350F/180C.  Brush each loaf lightly with egg and then bake for 20-30 minutes.

{ Pear & ginger crème fraîche tarts variation }

1. 1/2 batch of above dough recipe will yield 8 fruit tarts.
2. Double the quantity butter for an almost ‘lean’ brioche type dough.  For 1/2 a batch of dough, use 1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter.
3. After the second rise, divide the dough out into 8 equal portions.  Roll each portion gently and line 8 individual tart tins with the dough.
4. Allow to proof for 20 minutes.
5. In the centre of each piece of dough, add 1-2 tablespoons of crème fraîche.  Gently arrange thin slices of spiced pear on top.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350F/180c.  Dust with icing sugar to serve.

:: Yeastspotting ::
I am submitting these pear & ginger crème fraîche tarts to Yeastspotting.