saffron-poached pear and almond tart

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

This is a pie that I've made for a long time. I would make the poached pears for dinner parties, then I started fanning them out on puff pastry rounds as individual galettes and finally I took the plunge and made a large version with an almond frangipane/cream. I've toyed around with it a lot so feel free to do the same, particularly with flavours. But here is a version I feel works really well. These are all ingredients I had in the cupboard so if there's anything in the list of spices you don't have, don't worry - especially at the moment! Even with just lemon and honey and maybe a splash of cointreau or marsala wine, it'll taste great.

Serves 8, generously

You'll need: a 23cm diameter (preferably loose-bottomed), deep quiche/flan/tart dish

First, poach the pears (preferably the day before)

Poached Pears

Ingredients: 8 firm pears (I use Conference or Migo Pears)

5 Tbsp clear honey (though I used Manuka for this - don't judge - I only used what I had in the cupboard!)

Juice of three lemons

500mL/2 cups water

1 cinnamon stick

4 cardamom pods, gently squeezed to slightly open

a pinch of saffron threads

2-3 Tbsp orange blossom water


Heat the honey and lemon juice in a heavy pan that will fit the pears snugly. Stir over a low heat until the honey has dissolved. Add the water, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, saffron and orange blossom water. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Peel the pears, leaving the stalks intact. Add the pears to the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn the pears very gently and baste at intervals (you don't want to ruin the appearance of the flesh with a pair of tongs), until they're just tender. Allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight or for a few hours in their liquid.

Then, make the pastry shell - preferably do this the night before, too!

This is a traditional French 'Pâte Sucrée aux Amandes' (sweet almond pastry) recipe that I've tweaked a bit.

Almond Pastry shell


125g butter, very cold

70g icing sugar, sifted

30g ground almonds/almond flour

1 pinch sea salt

1 egg

215g plain flour


Cut the butter in to small pieces and place in a bowl. Beat with a hand mixer (or use a mixer with a paddle attachment - I actually sometimes use a food processor with a decent result). Add the icing sugar and incorporate it in to the butter well, then do the same with each of the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Try not to overwork the dough (that said, I have before and it is a little softer, but still lovely) Form it in to a ball, cover in plastic wrap (This pastry is just too sticky for beeswax or paper, alas, but you could squeeze it in to a plastic container). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.