4 pears (Williams are good)
1 ¼ cup (300ml) water
1 vanilla pod, split
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup (250g) caster sugar
⅓ cup (80g) unsalted butter
1 cup (130g) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp (30g) sugar
1 free-range egg yolk
1 tbsp water
½ cup (125g) softened unsalted butter
½ cup (125g) caster sugar
1 cup (125g) ground almonds
3 medium free-range eggs
2 tbsp rum
Apricot jam, warmed with a little water
1 tbsp sliced almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) for a convection oven, or 350°F (180°C) for a gas oven. Peel the pears, cut them in half, and remove the cores. Pour the water into a large pan and add the vanilla pod, cinnamon stick, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then add the pears and simmer them for 20 minutes. Leave to cool. You may prepare the pears the day before making the tart, if you like.
2. To make the pastry, cut the butter into small pieces and leave it to soften at room temperature. Sift the flour and salt, place them on the work surface, and make a well in the center. Add the butter and sugar and gently work them together with your fingertips. Add the egg yolk and gradually draw in the flour, adding drops of water as you go. When all of the flour has been incorporated, shape the dough into a ball, but do not overwork it. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
3. For the almond cream, whisk the butter and sugar until they are pale, then add the ground almonds. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and finally add the rum.
4. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3mm and use it to line a greased 28cm flan tin. Prick the pastry base with a fork, line it with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans, then bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and put the pastry back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base has cooked but not taken on too much colour. Leave the oven on.
5. Spoon the almond cream onto the tart base, then arrange the sliced, drained pears on top, with the pointed ends towards the center. Bake in the preheated oven for at least 20 minutes. When the tart is cooked, warm some apricot jam with a little water and brush it over the surface. Sprinkle the tart with toasted sliced almonds and serve warm.