The celebrity world has of late gone a fair distance in emphasizing just how flimsy human relationships are. John Terry’s infidelity not only led to the breakdown of his marriage, but it also lost him his job. That is one ill-advised affair. I mean, even Bill Clinton managed to hang onto his post after the Lewinsky Scandal. So it would seem that while extramarital games of hide the sausage are acceptable for the leader of the Free World, they most certainly are not for the captain of the England football team. Quite right.
All of this infidelity and misery has only served to consolidate the primacy of epicurean coitus over human. Next up to find his dignity in tatters was Vernon ‘sex text pest’ Kay. Vern, your lack of subtlety has been invaluable to me. I mean, a gherkin would never be so foolhardy as to send filthy texts to a burger behind a Martini’s back. Not that the Martini would mind. In fact, she’d probably love it – they don’t call her ‘dirty Martini’ for nothing. I imagine they’d all end up in some pickled romp together and things would be fine, until nine months later the Martini gave birth to a brood of cornichons and the burger got jealous.
It seemed about time for sweetness to find its serotonin-laden way into this celebration of the most awesome couples on the planet. I don’t write enough pudding recipes, largely because I don’t really make pudding that much. But I made this and then devoured it like a crazed ape with a great gobbet of creme fraiche. Pears and almonds will never break up. I read some muck the other day about a grotesque orgy of pear, walnuts, blue cheese and salad, all lubed up with a mustard dressing, but when I came to introduce the pear to the almond yesterday the encounter was sweet and heartfelt and there was no bitterness at all.
Pear and almond tart
For the pastry
200g plain flour
50-100 ml cold water
For the filling
100g caster sugar
100g softened butter
50g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
Half a lemon
50g flaked almonds
– To make the pastry, cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour. When the mix resembles breadcrumbs, pour in the water, a little at a time and mixing as you go, until the dough comes together. Knead briefly to bring together fully, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 10 minutes.
– On a floured surface, roll out the pastry and press into a 25 cm tart shell. Prick with a fork and chill for another 30 minutes.
– Preheat the oven to 180C. Place a sheet of baking parchment in the tart shell and fill with baking beans – dried chickpeas, split yellow peas, whatever.
– Blind bake the pastry for 25 minutes.
– Meanwhile make the filling. Beat the butter and sugar together until lighty and creamy, then beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour and almonds.
– When the pastry case is baked, remove the beans and parchment and bake for a further 5 minutes until lightly browned.
– Remove from the oven and spread in the filling. Peel, quarter and core the pears, rubbing with a little lemon as you go (this prevents browning). Lay on top of the filling and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.
– Just before serving, toast the almonds in a dry frying pan and scatter atop the tart.