Thin pear tart with vanilla ice cream
These tarts never fail to elicit "oohs" and "aahs" when they come out of the oven. The sight of the pastry, risen crisp and golden, and the fruit caramelised under a thin crust of sugar is magical. Pears produce a fine tart, with a luscious flavour, but the fruit must be cut thinner than you would for an apple tart or the flesh will not be tender.
You need a hot oven for this tart to work because you want the sugar to caramelise at the same time as the pastry is cooked.
- Heat the oven to 220C fan bake. Roll out the pastry sheets to make them as thin as possible so that you will end up with crisp, flaky tarts. Using a large saucer or bread and butter plate to trace around, cut out 6 pastry discs. Using something smaller, like a cup or mug, score a slightly smaller circle within each disc so that there is a rim on the pastry. Slide the discs onto a flat baking tray lined with non-stick paper and use a fork to prick all over the inner circles. This will stop the pastry rising. If you don't want to bake the tarts straight away, pile them like crepes onto a plate, separating each one with plastic wrap. Chill to firm the pastry while you prepare the pears.
- Peel the pears, cut into quarters, core then slice thinly from stem to stalk. Arrange the slices in overlapping circles on the pastry discs, finishing in the centre of each tart. Brush the pears with melted butter then dust with a fine layer of caster sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the pears are golden, the pastry crisp and the sugar caramelised. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. To serve, dust with icing sugar and top with a generous spoonful of ice cream or whipped cream flavoured with a hint of vanilla.